Scientists One Step Closer to Holographic Movies Holograms are nothing new, but they've never been dynamic. Using a special kind of plastic film, scientists have found a way to make dynamic 3-D holographic images. They use the old method of making a hologram with lasers to capture an image. But the image isn't permanent. They can use another laser process to erase it.
NPR logo

Scientists One Step Closer to Holographic Movies

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/18757574/18803103" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
Scientists One Step Closer to Holographic Movies

Scientists One Step Closer to Holographic Movies

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/18757574/18803103" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

The Writers Guild award for best video game writing will be announced tomorrow here in Los Angles. There's no award yet for best hologram, but there soon could be. Holograms, those 3D images, are nothing new. Maybe you have a little one on your credit card. Now, though, scientists have made a new kind of holographic display. As NPR's Nell Greenfieldboyce reports, it's a step towards holographic 3D movies.

NELL GREENFIELDBOYCE: Everybody who saw Star Wars remembers R2D2 beaming out a fuzzy hologram.

(Soundbite of movie, "Star Wars")

Ms. CARRIE FISHER (Actor): (As Princess Leia): Help me, Obi-Won Kenobi, you're my only hope.

Mr. MARK HAMILL (Actor): (As Luke Skywalker) What's this?

GREENFIELDBOYCE: Nasser Peyghambarian says the holographic Princess Leah moves, but real life holograms don't.

Professor NASSER PEYGHAMBARIAN (University of Arizona): They're beautiful. They're there, but they cannot be changed.

GREENFIELDBOYCE: Peyghambarian is a scientist at the University of Arizona. And this week in the Journal Nature he describes a special new type of plastic film. With it you can use the usual method of making a hologram to capture an image, but with this material the image isn't permanent. You can erase it.

Prof. PEYGHAMBARIAN: Imagine that you're sitting down and looking at this three dimensional image, and then a few seconds later the image is gone.

GREENFIELDBOYCE: You can then record a new holographic image on this display panel. That image can also be erased and replaced, and on and on. Now, it's not super-fast. It takes a few minutes to make the screen blank and then build a new image.

Mr. JOSEPH PERRY (Georgia Institute of Technology): So it's not quite real time, but you can write a new image and that is a big step moving towards that goal of having a holographic 3D movie.

GREENFIELDBOYCE: Joseph Perry is a scientist at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta. He says that lots of people want compelling 3D displays that they can enjoy without having to wear clunky eyeglasses.

Mr. PERRY: There's anticipation of sizeable commercial markets in the medical field, in the military, and in entertainment.

GREENFIELDBOYCE: So he says there's fierce competition to find technologies that will add that extra dimension. Nell Greenfieldboyce, NPR News.

MONTAGNE: To see this holographic display, check out a video at npr.org.

(Soundbite of "Star Wars" theme music)

Copyright © 2008 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.