Live 3D holograms for field hospitals.
Dynamic holograms optimize the times of surgical operations and less invasive interventions.
3D holograms projected by telephone, computer, or television have been promised for decades but, despite their great interest, have not yet materialized. Their applications are far-reaching, particularly in the field of medical technology, where real-time dynamic holograms are expected to shorten operation times and provide better surgical outcomes. Dynamic 3D holograms can replace the current 2D imaging used in MRI, giving surgeons a more complete understanding of a patient’s internal systems in real time, resulting in less invasive surgeries and fewer surprises on the operating table. Although the potential impact of 3D holograms in the medical field has been known for some time, researchers have encountered obstacles in developing the technology as it is still not possible to avoid resorting to bulky, non-transportable, and expensive systems that can only be used in large hospitals, creating a significant barrier to widespread adoption.
A new miniaturized optical system is needed , which can be integrated into a chip, which consumes little power, with a tunable wavefront. While there is technology that can address each of these points, combining them into a single system has so far proven difficult to achieve.
Researchers at TMOS, the Australian Research Council’s Center of Excellence for Transformative Meta-Optic Systems, have brought this technology one step closer to reality by using meta- optics by combining a vertical nanowire (nearly one-dimensional, cylindrically shaped or polyhedral whose section has nanometric dimensions, while the length can vary, from hundreds of nanometers upwards, up to hundreds of micrometers. They can be imagined as sewing threads, with complex structures inside them) with a micro- radius .
This device is less than 5 microns in size and may form a single hologram pixel. The effectiveness of this coupling has been demonstrated in the laboratory and the details have been published in the Laser & Photonics Review. Lead author Wei Wen Wong says, “This is the way forward to achieve on-chip microlaserlow energy consumption with tunable emission directionality. This new development removes one of the main obstacles to making 3D holograms. Our hope is that this new device may one day be integrated into a device small and inexpensive enough to be pocketed by doctors traveling to remote areas, enabling the projection of dynamic, full-color holograms from operating tables in the field.” . Hoe Tan, lead researcher at TMOS, says: “The development of dynamic holograms is one of our Centre’s flagship projects. Teams from all five participating universities are working together to make this project a reality. The next step of our research is the creation of a pixel array where the wavefront and beam shape can be controlled individually and dynamically adjusted”.