Researchers have developed a new printer that produces digital 3-D holograms with an unprecedented level of detail and realistic color. The printer can create holograms from 3-D computer-generated models or from scans acquired with a dedicated scanner created by the researchers. The CHIMERA printer uses red, green and blue low-power commercially available continuous-wave lasers with shutters that adjust the exposure for each laser in a matter of milliseconds.
Holograms are created by recording small holographic elements known as hogels, one after another using three spatial light modulators and a custom-designed full-color optical printing head that enables the 120-degree parallax. After printing, the holograms are developed in chemical baths and sealed for protection.
This new printer produces such perfect prints that it can be used to make high-resolution color recreations of objects or scenes for museum displays, architectural models, and fine art. The researchers are also looking at expanding its capabilities for medical or other advanced applications.