What is a Hologram?

Michael Anissimov
Michael Anissimov

Holograms are photographic images that are three-dimensional and appear to have depth. Holograms work by creating an image composed of two superimposed 2-dimensional pictures of the same object seen from different reference points. Holography requires the use of light of a single exact wavelength, so lasers must be used. In reflection holograms, the kind of holography that can be viewed in normal light, two laser beams and a photographic plate are used to take an image of the object.

Scientist with beakers
Scientist with beakers

Both laser beams used in a holograph go through beam spreaders, which spread the laser light out like a flashlight. The coherence of the beam is lost, but it remains an exact wavelength. One beam illuminates the object from the side. The other beam, known as a reference beam, travels through a photographic plate and hits the object head-on, similar to the way in which a conventional camera takes a 2-D image. The reflecting light from the reference beam leaves an image, or hologram, on the photographic plate, but so does the light reflected by the object from the side beam. The result is a photographic plate that registers two images simultaneously, creating a hologram.

When viewing any object, the human eyes each receive a distinct image, from slightly offset reference points. The brain combines them into a three-dimensional image. The hologram produces the same effect artificially.

When developed, the hologram is printed onto a set of ultra-thin curved silver plates, which are made to diffract light. Diffraction is what a prism does -- it splits multi-wavelength white light into each specific wavelength. When white light hits the silver plates, the reflections diffract into each specific color, creating two offset images made up of colors that roughly reflect what the original object looked like. The result is a three-dimensional image, a hologram. The hologram is composed of the interference pattern between the two original images.

Because copying a hologram is extremely difficult, holograms are frequently used for security purposes on credit cards.

Michael Anissimov
Michael Anissimov

Michael is a longtime EasyTechJunkie contributor who specializes in topics relating to paleontology, physics, biology, astronomy, chemistry, and futurism. In addition to being an avid blogger, Michael is particularly passionate about stem cell research, regenerative medicine, and life extension therapies. He has also worked for the Methuselah Foundation, the Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence, and the Lifeboat Foundation.

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Discussion Comments


no obviously they aren't from star wars.


so holograms aren't like in star wars?


The question is not on the "use of technology" but on the proper information dissemination to the Filipino public. We want accurate science information, not like in the US where almost anything goes!


therefore, the issue of questioning the GMA7 of using the "hologram" is not a big deal. let us just be proud that our country embraces technologies. We don't need to be perfect, especially in english because a lot of people in this world don't how to speak and use the right word but they afloat from the rest.


i believe that in the Philippines (GMA 7, a network used this) pointed out of the word hologram the same way CNN used it during the 2008 presidential election in US.


Deals with light and behavior of light, which is part of a light spectrum, frequency, wavelength, phase, lasers, lenses, almost all of this is physics and applied to holograms.


How is physics applied to a holographic projection?

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