MONITORING REPORT: Scientists 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 Department of Engineering’s Centre of Molecular Materials for Photonics and Electronics have harnessed the extraordinary conductive and light scattering abilities of nanotubes – made from several sheets of carbon atoms to diffract high resolution holograms.

“Smaller pixels allow the diffraction of light at larger angles – increasing the field of view. Essentially, the smaller the pixel, the higher the resolution of the hologram,” said Dr Haider Butt from CMMPE, who conducted the work along with Yunuen Montelongo.

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.

He explained that 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.

For Dr. Haider this is just the start – as these pixels and their subsequent displays are not only of the highest resolution, but ultra-sensitive to changes in material and incoming light.

A new class of highly sensitive holographic sensors can be developed that could sense distance, motion, tilt, temperature and density of biological materials.

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