Pictures in the air: 3D printing with light

Pictures in the air: 3D printing with light

A 3D shape, seemingly made of light, floats in mid-air. It’s a familiar image in fictional visions of the future. But that fictional future may be a lot closer and a lot more real than you think. “We here at the Electro-Holography Group at
Brigham Young University have created a display that is very much like the displays of science fiction.” But despite the similarity to the holograms
of Hollywood films, these displays are different… “This image is not a hologram. We’ve demonstrated here that we can see
it from the front, we can see it from the back, and, in reality,
we can see it from almost any angle. And that separates it from technologies like holograms that can only be seen from a certain range of angles.” Scientists call these science fiction-worthy displays ‘volumetric images’. “A volumetric image is essentially an image that is taking up three-dimensional space. And our approach is that we’re actually using a laser beam to trap a particle
and then we can move that, we can basically steer that beam around to move the particle and create the image.” Like when you swing a sparkler around,
a particle moving fast enough looks like a solid line
and can be moved to form a shape. “We can think about this image like a 3D printed object. A single point was dragged sequentially
through all these image points and as it did it scattered light. And the accumulated effect
of all that scattering and moving was to create this 3D image in space that is visible from all angles.” As well as taking up real 3D space, the images created by this single particle
and a few low-cost lasers can be incredibly high-resolution, up to 1,600 dots per inch. Although they’re very detailed, the images
created so far have been quite small and they remain difficult to capture on video. Because of the video’s frame rate, the display appears to flicker here, but to the human eye and to still cameras, the image appears whole. Rather than being used in epic space battles or to communicate with alien races, these kinds of three-dimensional visualizations may instead be used to train medical professionals for advanced procedures. They could also be used in aviation,
providing busy air traffic controllers with more accurate and intuitive visual maps
of how planes are moving around airports. To reach that point though, researchers will have to first master the trapping and moving
of multiple particles simultaneously in order to scale up the images to sizes larger
than the tip of your thumb. Until then, we’ll just have to settle for
experiencing the future in miniature.

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  1. I think there was a Japanese group that had already prototyped this kind of system (upon review it seems like the techniques are different where the BYU group literally traps tiny particles to trace out images, whereas the Japanese group used induced plasma — both probably using high frequency laser pulses).

  2. Can it be used with Carbon M1 3D Printer? Since M1 3d printer relies on 2dimensional light projection, I imagine using 3d light projection would speed up 3D printing

  3. Hace un año escribí esto en mi perfil de FB: "Estaba pensando que si hubiera un tipo de cine en el que uno pudiera escoger el personaje de la película para verla como si estuvieras ahí, entonces la gente pagaría hasta 3 o 5 veces por la misma película, tomando los diferentes personajes para verla desde diferentes ópticas." … tal vez ésta sea la tecnología que necesito para mi proyecto! 😀

  4. A year ago I wrote this on my FB profile: "I was thinking that if there was a kind of cinema in which one could choose the character of the movie to see it as if you were there, then people would pay up to 3 or 5 times for the same movie, taking the different characters to see it from different perspectives. " … maybe this is the technology I need for my project! 😀

  5. Volumetric three dimensional miniature imaging. If this can be successfully scaled up there are practical applications for medical imaging and aviation.

  6. Thats nice and all but "3D printing with light" is a stupid title. Just say hologram. and spare me the "its not a hologram because its got better viewing angles"

  7. General Kenobi. Years ago, you served my father in the Clone Wars. Now he begs you to help him in his struggle against the Empire. I regret that I am unable to present my father's request to you in person, but my ship has fallen under attack and I'm afraid my mission to bring you to Alderaan has failed. I have placed information vital to the survival of the Rebellion into the memory systems of this R2 unit. My father will know how to retrieve it. You must see this droid safely delivered to him on Alderaan. This is our most desperate hour. Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi. You're my only hope.

  8. wow..what the…this is like actual alien tech or something, we litterally live in the future and this is only the beginning.

  9. I was just thinking.. maybe if they can manage to trap much more cellulose particles with ultrasonic waves tweezers they can scale up this system without adding bulky lasers for controlling multiple particles.. anyway kudos for your achievements guys this is AMAZING 🙂

  10. congrats, such awesome work!!!
    i think if you shoot the video with a slower shutter speed you might be able to make the refresh rate of the laser less noticeable.

  11. I've noticed these 3D lights in highschool (~7 years ago) playing with magnifying lens. I showed some people and they had no interest. I couldn't ever find a practical use for this discovery, hopefully they can.

  12. "Our approach is that we are actually using, uh, a laser beam to trap a particle. Then we can that, we can basically steer that beam around to move the particle and create the image." Shows video of a common spoon to "manipulate" the particle…

  13. I believe this is how all matter comes about. it's a single point whizzing about in all places at all times, omnipresent. Call it god if you will.

  14. How about mapping instead of trapping. By using the natural accuring dust content in the air. Or using interfering ultrasonic fields to generate droplets in humid air as particles. In any case I am looking forward to see what comes of it.

  15. Medical imaging and aviation? Fuck it, i just want to see giant blade runner style city with holographic ads flying everywhere

  16. Ok. Solution material: You don't nessecarily need to figure out coordination of more particles within the same beam; you can have beams that originate from different points in space but coordinate an output digitally.
    You are welcome.

  17. [02:27] ATC display looks retro or file—no grid-horns showing each plane maneuverability-position cone… no better than pre-early-1980's (no computer-generated-corridors, etc.)….

  18. Hologram in a science fiction sense IS actually a projected 3-dimensional image. Or at least in a lot of science fiction stories. So I would still call it a hologram. Even more than ones that you can only see from some angles. I would NOT call those holograms.

  19. mmhhmmp i saw this like 6 years ago, with femtosecond lasers, and the image was even touch-sensitive, so it was a touch reactive hologram, it was a japanesse investigation i'd like to know what's the status of them today.

  20. how do they woooooooooooooooooooork i wanna know how are photons stuck in mid air packed together tell me hooow!

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