There are not too many people who would avoid a chance to play with lasers and make a 3-D image. Thankfully, Ohio State has a new club to cure that holographic itch.
“We just try to introduce people to holography and show them how to express themselves through a different artistic medium,” said James Mertens, president of the Holography Club and a fourth-year in physics and astronomy.
“It’s a form of 3-D art,” Mertens said, “It gives you perspective. It gives you an actual recreation of what the 3-D object looked like.”
The Holography Club aims to advance the art of holography, its practice and theory as an educational medium for art at OSU.
So how does the hologram-making process work?
“We create holograms using a couple beams of light that interfere and create patterns on a special type of film, and when they do that you get these three-dimensional images that recreate the image of what the original object was,” Mertens said.
The creative process with holograms is similar to photography, said Jake Connors, club treasurer and a third-year in physics.
“We put a holographic film in the holder, and expose the film to the laser beam, which is split into a beam that will go through the object, and a beam that is called a reference beam and just goes directly to it,” Connors said. “It creates a complex diffraction pattern in the film that allows light that comes through the hologram to re-form images in three dimensions.”
Room 135 in Haskett Hall is the holography base camp for students involved in the class and club. And since many of the club members are students in the class, the club’s work revolves around what the class is learning.
“If you really want to be making holograms, then you need to take the class,” Mertens said.
Samples of white-light holograms line the walls of the club’s headquarters. The subject matter ranges from gargoyles to an unexpressive face that appears to wear a blindfold. It’s hard to resist extending a hand toward the picture with the expectation of touching something solid.
“The reason these holograms look so real is because there is no image in the hologram,” said Harris Kagan, club adviser and professor in physics. “But when it’s displayed properly, what comes out of the hologram are the waves that were there when the object was there.”
In the back of the classroom is a darkroom where red lasers are activated on a table and then reflected against mirrors until interference — the key ingredient in making a hologram — is created.
“A hologram is made by the process of interference,” Kagan said. “And the basic rule of interference is you need two beams — two waves — to interfere. The basis of all of the setups is having two beams.”
It seems like a magic trick, but there is more science at work than sleight-of-hand.
“The key to understanding this, is what you’re looking at is not an illusion – it’s not tricking your eyes,” Kagan said. “Our eyes are sensitive to waves, and you’re looking at the same waves that were there when the object was there. That’s why they look so real.”
The end of Fall Quarter will give the Holography Club an opportunity to reveal their members’ work in the Retro-spectroscopic showcase Dec. 3 from 5 to 9 p.m. in Haskett Hall. The event gives undergraduates and graduates a platform to show others what is going on in this meshing of science and art.
For those interested in learning holography, OSU offers related classes in Physics 455, Physics 455 Honors and Art 455.