A new art form from nanotech

Science and art have combined to bring hand-drawn content for holographic TV and other 3D display technologies a step closer, thanks to research at the Australian National Fabrication Facility’s NSW node (ANFF-NSW) at the University of New South Wales (UNSW).

Paula Dawson’s work may help to deliver holographic TV and 3D display technologies – represented with an artist’s impression. Credit: Paul Henderson-Kelly

Unlike the traditional method of making a hologram—which involves reflecting a laser off a real object—the new technique simulates objects within computer software. In a recent test, a virtual, digital hologram file was produced and etched as a 3 mm-wide nanoscale pattern onto a glass plate using ANFF-NSW’s Electron Beam Lithography facility. When laser light was shone through the glass, a 3D hologram sprang into life.

“A beam of electrons is used to write a pattern made up of millions of tiny pixels, each one being one-hundredth the width of a human hair. When reconstructed using laser light the fuzzy pattern produces a sharp 3D image,” says Prof Andrew Dzurak, director of the ANFF-NSW node.

Holoshop uses a touch feedback (haptic) device to encode the movement of an operator’s hand, translating that into a real-time 3D. Credit: Geomagic

The work is also a milestone for Holoshop, an Australian Research Council Discovery Project for the design and evaluation of rapid 3D drawing technology to allow content creation in holograms and other 3D displays. Holoshop is led by A/Prof Paula Dawson, an internationally renowned holographic artist at the UNSW College of Fine Arts (COFA).

“I’m excited by the potential for this technology to make real-time production of 3D digital content suitable for holograms and 3D display systems,” Paula says, “particularly the potential for the hand-drawing of subjects and designs using a haptic interface system to encode the gestural data.”

“At ANFF we’ve really enjoyed working with a talented and innovative artist like Paula Dawson to bring art and technology together in this new form,” Andrew adds.

The work is a collaboration between the UNSW College of Fine Arts (COFA), UNSW School of Electrical Engineering and VisLab at the University of Sydney. The bit map etched onto the wafer was produced by Nihon University in Japan.

Photo: Holoshop uses a touch feedback (haptic) device to encode the movement of an operator’s hand, translating that into a real-time 3D
Credit: Geomagic

Australian National Fabrication Facility, NSW Node, Andrew Dzurak, Tel: +61 2 9385 6311, a.dzurak@unsw.edu.au, www.anff.org.au/new-south-wales-node.html