Holographic Nanostructure Research is a Phenomenal Success 

October 2021

Developing new products from scientific research can be a slow and costly endeavour, with no guarantee of success. But modern economies are sustained by bringing nascent technologies to market that help solve real world problems and create wealth.

Previously, in Holography News® (see HN January 2021), we looked at how the ‘chaebol’, or conglomerate, system in South Korea, with support from the government, has benefited research into holographic video and Spatial Light Modulator (SLM) systems.

The cost of funding fundamental research along with uncertain timelines and returns on investment mean that large scale R&D projects in Europe are often organised through collaborations across several institutions and countries. One such European research framework, Horizon 2020, funded a range of projects from January 2018 to December 2020, one of which is the PHENOmenon project.

Project PHENOmenon

PHENOmenon received funding of €4 million, financed entirely from European funds. The project is led from the AIMEN Technology Centre (Spain), an innovation and technology hub which specialises in materials and in advanced manufacturing and laser technologies applied to materials processing, robotics and automation.

Whilst the direct funding for PHENOmenon concluded at the end of 2020, the commercialisation of its findings continues and it will take some time from the end of the funding period to assess the impact of the research.

The objective of this project was to develop a new technology that allows the use of new materials, laser technology, simulation and design tools to develop customised surface structures (at a very tiny scale) to fabricate high quality optics with enhanced properties, such as extreme light focusing and anti-fog properties, at a cost and speed advantage over existing technologies.

This holographic technology is based on the use of lasers and new materials that allow the generation of three-dimensional nanostructures, pixel by pixel, in a photopolymer medium. It is the first time, the research project claims, that a single laser was divided into more than 10,000 simultaneous beams with a resolution of greater than one micron, and, furthermore, maintaining the quality process to achieve an improvement in the power of the lasers, reducing time and lowering costs.

For this reason, it is a technology that until now was not scalable at an industrial level. Currently, and thanks to advances such as the appearance of new materials and production processes, it has been possible to produce the same image and performance quality as existing holographic techniques.

Participants

While two of the participants, the Fábrica Nacional de Moneda y Timbre-Real Casa de la Moneda (FNMT) and Thales, will be known to readers of Holography News® for their activities in the ID and secure document business sector, several others may be less familiar. ICFO (Spain), CNRS (France) and IMT-A (France) will develop the new materials, laser manufacturing technology, simulation and design tools for on-demand production of advanced optics. EU companies Multiphoton Optics (Germany), FLUXIM (Switzerland) and CDA (Germany) will commercialise the manufacturing technology, optical calculation software and modelling solutions and provide manufacturing services to other companies.

The FNMT, represented by its Burgos Paper Mill, is responsible for assessing whether this technology of creating holograms by physical-chemical means could be directly applicable to the different types of secure paper and plastic document substrates, or potentially even on metals.

It is also in charge of verifying the robustness, as well as the scope of the security features of the holograms applied with this technology.

Benefits to citizens

One of the guiding principles of Horizon 2020 is that other industries in Europe will have access to the outcomes of the research to design and manufacture products with radically improved or new functionalities to respond to European society needs, ie. better healthcare, cost-efficient energy production, better transport vehicles and infrastructures.

Some of the benefits of the solution developed in PHENOmenon include:

  • Improved LED and OLCD-based devices: Better light distribution enabling efficient lighting and high-quality image. For lighting and displays everywhere.
  • Highly efficient photovoltaic concentrators: Advanced optics will enable additional capacity to capture energy from sunlight and transform it into green energy.
  • Antifogging coating on lenses: To be used in vehicle light or cameras, this solution will significantly improve safety and security.
  • Holographic interaction: Holographic projection to enable new ways of interacting with devices or vehicles.
  • Holographic security features: Features to be integrated in banknotes and other documents (ID documents, credit cards, brand tags, etc.) making them practically impossible to counterfeit.

As for the applications of the research project:

  • THALES (France) will produce antifogging on-board cameras and improved PV concentrators for aerospace applications.
  • FNMT will integrate holographic features in banknotes and other documents.
  • PSA (France) will create completely new car interiors using holographic control panels and curved/flexible displays, as well as integrating antifogging coating in car lighting. 
  • FlexEnable (UK) will provide advanced concepts for low consumption LED lighting. 
  • DesignLED (UK) will provide an innovative backlight unit for high quality imaging in curved/flexible displays.

Also in this issue:

  • New Costa Rica ¢10,000 with KINEGRAM REVIEW® 
  • VividQ Teams up with iView to Bring Holography to Consumers
  • Dr Sergey Borisovich Odinokov – a Great Scientist, Organiser and Teacher
  • News in Brief
  • A History of Holographic Packaging Through the Words of John Hazen
  • KURZ Digital Pre-Visualisation Nominated for IACA Award
  • A Technical Review of Common-Path Off-Axis Digital Holography
  • Excitement Growing for Holography Conference

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