For Star Wars fans, Princess Leia’s holographic message to Obi-Wan Kenobi asking for help is a pivotal moment in the 1977 Star Wars film Episode IV: A New Hope.
But it is only now that the technology enabling her desperate plea stands a chance of becoming a reality.
Engineers have created stretchable holograms that can change from one image to another, offering the tantalizing possibility that holographic videos may one day be possible.
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The researchers calculated how much a holographic image expands as the material generating it stretches, and how far the image plane moves away from its original position.
Based on these findings, the team created multi-layered holograms made up of two or three different images.
This means that as the surface stretches, one image appears in the place of another.
Using this method, they created a hologram that showed a pentagon in its relaxed state, which transformed into a square, and then a triangle when pulled.
Scientists from the Department of Materials Science and Engineering (SEAS) at the University of Pennsylvania used metasurfaces – flat, ultra-thin surfaces – to make their holograms.
They built on their previous work in creating 3D and multi-color holograms by embedding tiny gold rods in a stretchable film.
This helped them understand how holographic images change with stretching and to see if they could use this information to create a hologram that can switch between images.