A new ultra-thin film can create detailed 3D images viewable under normal illumination without special reading devices. Images appear to float on top of the film, allowing viewing from all angles. The glass-free approach could be used as a visual security feature or by virtual or augmented reality devices.
Researchers described the new film in the Optica Publishing Group journal Optics Letters. At 25 microns thick, the film is 2x as thick as household plastic wrap. It uses light-field imaging, which captures the direction and intensity of all rays of light within a scene to create a 3D image.
The researchers also developed an economic self-releasing nanoimprinting lithography approach that achieves precision for high optical performance while using low-cost materials. The film is patterned with an array of reflective focusing elements on one side that act like tiny cameras, while the other contains a micropattern array that encodes the image to be displayed.
The researchers say that their algorithm and nanopatterning technique could be extended to other applications by creating the nanopatterns on a transparent display screen instead of a film. The paper is available at: https://doi.org/10.1364/OL.463117