Scientists from Cambridge UK have generated holograms from carbon nanotubes for the first time, which could lead to much sharper holograms with a vastly increased field of view.
The researchers from the University’s Centre of Molecular Materials for Photonics and Electronics (CMMPE) have harnessed the extraordinary conductive and light scattering abilities of these tubes – made from several sheets of carbon atoms rolled into a cylinder – to diffract high resolution holograms. Carbon nanotubes are one billionth of a metre wide, only a few nanometres, and the scientists have used them as the smallest ever scattering elements to create a static holographic projection of the word CAMBRIDGE.
Many scientists believe that carbon nanotubes will be at the heart of future industry and human endeavour, with anticipated impact on everything from solar cells to cancer treatments, as well as optical imaging. One of their most astonishing features is strength – about 100 times stronger than steel at one-sixth the weight.
The work on using these nanotubes to project holograms, the 2D images that optically render as three-dimensional.
The multi-walled nanotubes used for this work are around 700 times thinner than a human hair, and grown vertically on a layer of silicon in the manner of atomic chimney stacks. The researchers were able to calculate a placement pattern that expressed the name of this institution using various colours of laser light – all channelled out (scattered) from the nano-scale structures.