A new display uses lasers to create bubbles in a liquid to form 3D images.
A team of researchers led by Yoshio Hayasaki of Utsunomiya University, Japan, have demonstrated a new type of display in an article published to Optica. The display uses high powered lasers to create colored images out of bubbles suspended in a liquid. The images are three dimensional, and require no glasses or special equipment to be viewed as such.
“Creating a full-color updatable volumetric display is challenging because many three-dimensional pixels, or voxels, with different colors have to be formed to make volumetric graphics,” said Kota Kumagai, one of the paper’s authors. “In our display, the microbubble voxels are three-dimensionally generated in a liquid using focused femtosecond laser pulses. The bubble graphics can be colored by changing the color of the illumination light.”
The display is merely a proof of concept at this point, but the researchers can see many applications for their future use. Right now, the technology is clunky and large, and would likely see commercial use, such as for displaying 3D models in museums, or even in hospitals to help surgeons visualize and plan out operations. With time though, the tech could shrink and find uses at home. “The volumetric bubble display is most suited for public facilities such as a museum or an aquarium because, currently, the system setup is big and expensive,” said Kumagai. “However, in the future, we hope to improve the size and cost of the laser source and optical devices to create a smaller system that might be affordable for personal use.”
The bubbles in the display are caused by something known as multiphoton absorption, a result of focusing laser light onto a point-like area. By moving the laser focus around, the scientists were able to control where the bubbles formed. However, this is not the main method they used to create images – in actuality, computer generated holograms were used to create 3D-patterns of laserlight throughout their liquid-filled screen. The researchers used the technique to create a 3D image of a bunny, as well as a 2D mermaid and dolphin in four different colors.
“Our bubble graphics have a wide viewing angle and can be refreshed and colored,” said Kumagai. “Although our first volumetric graphics are on the scale of millimeters, we achieved the first step toward an updatable full-color volumetric display.”