SMU 3D, the three-dimensional “liquid” hologram inspired by Star Wars

A group of scientists at Southern Methodist University in Dallas has created a system they call volumetric 3D display inspired by Star Wars

To make a three-dimensional hologram inside a liquid the "force" must be with you. And in fact, not surprisingly, scientists and chemists who have succeeded in this technological marvel were inspired by the famous Star Wars saga. The name of the project to make 3D holograms is SMU 3D.

The scientists to get to these results have taken inspiration from the iconic scene of Star Wars, the one in which R2-D2 projects a hologram of Princess Leia who says: "Help me Obi-Wan Kenobi, you are my only hope." At least that's what researchers at Southern Methodist University in Dallas said during the presentation of the project. Although to be fair, the experts clearly specified that the images shown in this way cannot be called holograms, they prefer to call them "three-dimensional light structures, visible in 360 degrees".

A volumetric 3D display

Why can't we properly call them holograms? "A typical hologram is formed on a plate, so when a viewer looks at the front they can see a 3D object. - said Alexander Lippert assistant professor in the Department of Chemistry to Digital Trends - Whereas if the viewer looks on the back of the plate they won't see the hologram. This is because a hologram has a limited viewing angle and doesn't really have 3D volume." In contrast, the 3D volumetric display made with SMU 3D allows the viewer to see light in three dimensions.

How it works

How does the project by scientists at Southern Methodist University in Dallas return a 3D view to the viewer? This effect is made possible by a photocell located in the center of the device. In the dark, the photocell is colorless, but when hit by UV light, it lights up. Using digital light processing projectors, the team is able to shape light through a balloon containing a solution of photovoltaic shots and use it to generate 3D images and animations. Where can this technology be used? Obviously for 3D televisions and video games. But it could also have developments in the medical field particularly in radiology and surgery.