Applications of Holography

A Problem in search of a solution…

Holograms: An accidental discovery

The Visa dove hologram (above) is probably one of the oldest examples of a security embossed hologram, and is still used today. Although effective at the time, holography has progressed over the past two decades, and today images are more sophisticated, both from a technical and aesthetic point of view.

At Display Hologram we produce holograms for display purposes and as art pieces, but there are many other applications of holography, some of which you will no doubt be familiar.

Embossed Holography

These are very different to the larger format display holograms, both in terms of general appearance and their applications. They contain less microscopic information and are therefore not as detailed, however they do hold other significant advantages. Once the original holographic image has been recorded, which again is a very time consuming and complex process, the image has the ability to be mass-produced in very considerable numbers. The hologram is recorded in the photographic plate as a physical surface relief, so can be embossed using the correct heat and pressure into materials such as polyester. Using specialist equipment, these holograms can be produced both quickly and cheaply.

All holograms are very difficult to copy, which is why they are ideal for security applications such as bank notes, credit cards and passports. As well as this they are used heavily in brand protection. They are also eye catching and unusual, which makes them beneficial for promotion and packaging.

Other Applications

Holography is used in industry for testing the integrity of materials when pushed to their limits. The hologram, if recorded in a particular way, has the ability to show tiny changes in a material when it is put under some form of stress or pressure. These are shown in the form of black fringes across the object and can be directly measured, giving valuable information. This is known as Holographic Interferometry. It is a non-destructive form of testing, so can be very beneficial in certain circumstances. The same technique is also used for visualisation of fluid flows and vibration modes.

A very recent new application of holography is Holographic Data Storage. This has been developed over many years, and is now finally set to be the next generation of data storage technology available to everyone. Holographic data, whether it be in a display hologram or on a disc, is incredibly small, and as such, a vast amount of information can be comfortably stored on an area the size of a CD.

Holography is used in medicine and dentistry too. Computer generated holograms are made from CAT scan or MRI information, so that a surgeon or dentist can view the patient internally in full 3D before invasive surgery begins.

Because a hologram can reconstruct an object so perfectly, it is used frequently to replace a complicated or cumbersome set of optics. Essentially a whole series of lenses can be replaced with a single holographic plate, known as a Holographic Optical Element. These are used frequently and ideally suited to applications such as aircraft head-up displays, and gun sights.

The resolution of our holograms exceed 6,000 lines per mm. Holograms hold so much information, they are now being marketed as the next generation of data storage.

Image © Lalique Ltd 2002