Researchers have developed the world’s thinnest hologram paving the way for their use in smartphones and other electrical devices.

The breakthrough – made through a collaboration between RMIT University and the Beijing Institute of Technology (BIT) – could result in holographic technology being available in a range of electronics that could be viewed without 3D glasses.

RMIT University’s Professor Min Gu said: “Conventional computer-generated holograms are too big for electronic devices but our ultrathin hologram overcomes those size barriers. Our nano-hologram is also fabricated using a simple and fast direct laser writing system, which makes our design suitable for large-scale uses and mass manufacture.

“Integrating holography into everyday electronics would make screen size irrelevant – a pop-up 3D hologram can display a wealth of data that doesn’t neatly fit on a phone or watch.

“From medical diagnostics to education, data storage, defence and cyber security, 3D holography has the potential to transform a range of industries and this research brings that revolution one critical step closer.”

Dr Zengyi Yue, who co-authored the paper published in the journal Nature Communications, added: “The next stage for this research will be developing a rigid thin film that could be laid onto an LCD screen to enable 3D holographic display. This involves shrinking our nano-hologram’s pixel size, making it at least 10 times smaller.

“But beyond that, we are looking to create flexible and elastic thin films that could be used on a whole range of surfaces, opening up the horizons of holographic applications.”