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How to Make

Transmission Holograms


By Alec Jeong and Dr. T. H. Jeong

Copyright © 2005 Integraf LLC. All rights reserved.


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Transmission holograms are actually quite easy to make and have unique features that can truly dazzle any student, teacher, or viewer.

Making transmission holograms requires the same materials as those needed for making a reflection hologram. In fact, many of the methods and processes for making transmission holograms are also exactly the same as those for making reflection holograms. The only real difference lies in how you position the materials on your work table.

If you have not already done so, we recommend you familiarize yourself with the basics of making reflection holograms prior attempting to make transmission hologram. Simply read our short article “Simple Holography” or download our step-by-step instructions. These articles will give you some background on the materials involved, basic preparation, how to choose the subject, steps for exposure and development, etc.

All the essential materials for making transmission holograms can be conveniently found in Integraf’s HOLOKIT hologram kits, or purchased separately.


Transmission holograms constitute one of the two major types of holograms, the other being reflection holograms. All other holograms (rainbow holograms, computer generated holograms, multi-channel holograms, computer-generated holograms, etc.) are actually hybrids of these two types of holograms.

The typical transmission hologram is viewed with laser light, usually of the same type used to make the recording. This light is directed from behind the hologram and the image is transmitted to the observer’s side. The virtual image can be very sharp and deep. For example, through a small hologram, a full-size room with people in it can be seen as if the hologram were a window. Of course, making holograms of people requires a more powerful laser and significant safety precautions, but you get the idea. Transmission holograms are like a window to another world. Remember Alice in Lewis Carroll's Through The Looking Glass?

Unique Features of Transmission Holograms

There are some unique features of transmission holograms that"wow" the viewer:

  • Captures an image of a subject much bigger than the holographic plate or film sheet that records the hologram. Reflection holograms cannot do this easily.
  • Have an image can be projected  onto a screen or other surface with a laser.
  • Can be broken into small pieces whereby each piece still contains the entire image. Yes, that's right. If you were to smash a hologram with a hammer and then shine a laser through just one piece, the entire image can be still be projected and viewed.
  • Can record more than one image on the same holographic plate of film sheet; in effect, adding a “channel” for subsequent images.  When viewing the finished hologram, you can “tune” to different channels by rotating the hologram and see your different images!

Drawbacks of Transmission Holograms

Notwithstanding the unique features above, transmission holograms are usually not the first hologram of choice for artists, hobbyists, and first-time holographers. The main reason for this is due the fact that transmission holograms must generally be viewed with laser light instead of white light. Practically speaking, this makes transmission holograms less convenient than reflection holograms to display.


To make transmission holograms, you use the same equipment and materials you use for making reflection holograms, as explained in “Simple Holography”.




Holographic Plates (or Film)

PFG-03M and PFG-01 emulsions both make excellent holograms, but PFG-01 is especially good for transmission holograms.

Diode Laser for Holography

Red sensitive (650nm)

3mW to 5mW (Class IIIa)

Removable collimating lens

Stabilized power and frequency

Coherence length of approximately 1 meter


To hold the laser

Chemical developer & bleach

Use JD-2 or JD-3 kits (with PFG-01)

Use JD-4 kit (with PFG-03M)

Five developer trays

Three small ones, and two large ones

Photoflo solution

To help avoid smudges on the finished hologram 

The above materials can all be found in the hologram kit or catalog provided by Integraf. While the HOLOKITS come standard with PFG-03M, you can request to substitute this emulsion with PFG-01 (with JD-2 developer).

Other accessories generally recommended are a computer mouse pad, a cup of sand (salt or sugar will also work), a hardcover book (or piece of cardboard) to serve as a shutter, coins (or other appropriate object as the subject for your hologram), distilled water, and a hair dryer (optional). Again, please see "Simple Holography" or the downloadable step-by-step instructions to understand how these items are used.

Now, your ready to set up to make transmission holograms . . ..

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