Craft & Design

I always assumed that the process of making a hologram was so complex that it was limited to only those with access to expensive lasers and other fancy optical equipment. But when I heard that the Maker Shed started carrying Litiholo’s Hologram Kit, I was surprised that such a thing existed and I was eager to give it a try. After carefully following the directions, my first hologram was visible, but just barely. This was better than I expected, actually. The manual stresses that controlling vibration is the most important factor in creating a good hologram, but I live in a busy Brooklyn apartment building that often feels the low rumble of the subway trains rolling by. I tried to make another, but this time I increased the exposure time from five minutes to fifteen as the instructions suggested. The result was a surprisingly sharp hologram of a toy car.

The science behind the why holograms work and how they’re made is fascinating. In the video above, I explain that the holographic film is sensitive to the interference between the laser beam hitting the plate directly and the beam bouncing off the object. I won’t try to explain it any further, and I’ll leave it up to those who do it best: How Stuff Works has a great write-up of the principles behind these amazing 3D images.

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In the Maker Shed:


Litiholo's Hologram Kit

6 thoughts on “How-To: Holography

  1. this is great!  Any suggestions on making multi-layered image holograms?  Like a person standing in front of a landscape or something?

  2. Nope, that kit takes it about to the limit with the car. I sat in when Nick Phillips was trying to hologram a real X-Wing fighter for Star Wars II (5 in the historic order) at Loughborough back in the 70s, but despite a full-length marble bed and doing it 3am when the traffic was virtually nil, it wouldn’t fix – either the time it took for the laser reflection from the far end to arrive was long enough for interference fringes to set in, or Heisenberg was a nigh-on certainty at that distance, or there was still sufficent earth grumble to affect it, but whatever, no go.
    Nor, for that matter, can you do humans easily – we tremble enough sufficiently for it not to work. Heavier kit takes it to a depth of field of maybe six inches (you’re talking a 3-foot marble plate on anti-shock here), but beyond that the cost of plates and developing kit also puts it beyond pocket money prices.
    What you’re basically doing is recording the difference between a fixed reference beam and a beam on what you’re holographing: that replays with the same laser as a virtual image of the original object, which appears exactly like the original from a wide range of angles – you can examine sides hidden when looked at from the other side, for example. If you break a holography plate, you can still do the same with the shards, just the viewing angle is much more limited.

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Matt Richardson is a San Francisco-based creative technologist and Contributing Editor at MAKE. He’s the co-author of Getting Started with Raspberry Pi and the author of Getting Started with BeagleBone.

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