Lasers Ionize Mid-Air Molecules to Make Moving Holograms

mid-air 3d laser holograms

The holograms we know and are a little creeped out by today are generally created by projecting images onto a medium. The infamous Michael Jackson hologram that performed at the 2014 Billboard Music Awards? He was created by projecting a “digital head connected to an actor.” While we are edging ever closer to Star Wars-type holograms, the limitation remains that the image source still needs something to reflect light off of before it reaches your eyes as a 3D image.

Japanese company Aerial Burton has moved holography in a completely new direction. They created 3D moving images in mid-air using laser plasma technology. Their technique doesn’t require fog, water, or a screen to create images; the lasers simply ionize molecules in the air. The company accomplished this using a 1kHz infrared pulse laser directed into a 3D scanner. The laser hits pre-defined points in mid-air, instantly creating short-lived pockets of plasma by ionizing molecules at the appropriate points.

3d laser holograms

This so-sciencey-it-makes-your-head-kind-of-hurt technology has its limitations, though. It can’t create detailed images like the projection method can. The little bursts of light are so short-lived that the projector has to continually blast laser beams to continue displaying the image. The system was designed to be portable enough to fit into a car, which is an important aspect for Aerial Burton. They envision the technology being used to project information or directions in emergencies, so when there’s a natural disaster you will only have to look to the sky to find an evacuation route or safe haven.

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See more in Futuristic or under Technology. November, 2014.