A stretchable nanostructured surface produces shifting holograms

We haven’t caught up to Star Wars yet, but science is edging closer to holographic message communication. A concept described this week in Nano Letters has created a flexible surface of nanostructures that switches between holograms as it stretches.

The concept builds on previous research led by Ritesh Agarwal, at the University of Pennsylvania, in which gold nano-rods were embedded in an ultra-thin, flimsy surface to generate a holographic image.

Through detailed calculations, Argarwal’s team established how much an image moved and shifted when the flexible polymer material was stretched. Using this data, they developed a surface that could appear to switch between 2 or 3 images, depending on how it expanded or retracted.

This concept could give rise to holographic animations, which could have applications in virtual reality, or, as envisioned by George Lucas, as a highly secure method of communications.

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