The Easiest Way to Make Holograms
By T. H. Jeong,
Raymond Ro, Riley Aumiller (Lake Forest College)
and Misashi Iwasaki
(Kyoto Institute of Technology)
contributions from Jeff Blythe (University of Cambridge)
Edited by Alec Jeong
Copyright © 1996-2009
for students & teachers
Each kit provides the
essential items for making many types of holograms in the classroom or at home. Starts at $99.
Learn More . . .
"Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler” -
We attempt to follow
this dictum so you can make holograms easily. The procedures
we propose herein are as simple as it is physically possible. In the
process, we make holography not only as simple as possible, but safer,
less expensive, and more accessible to young people.
Most of the essential
items described in this article can be found in Integraf's
holography kits or
are available separately. The kits provide materials for you to make many
kinds of holograms, including reflection holograms and
2. THE LASER
The figure below shows a Class IIIa diode
laser with an output of 3 to 4 mW when operated by 3.0 v dc. If the power is
supplied by batteries, its red light of wavelength 650 nm achieves a coherence
length exceeding 1 m after a warm-up period of a few minutes. The traditional
helium-neon laser, on the other hand, operates on dangerously high voltages,
is prone to breakage, has a shorter shelf life, and a coherence length of
approximately 30 cm.
Unlike many laser diodes and laser pointers,
the laser shown below and in our catalog has a stabilized frequency output (a
must for holography), good coherence length (also a must), and a removable
collimating lens. With the spring-loaded collimating lens mounted on the
laser, the output beam can be adjusted to focus at any arbitrary distance.
To make holograms,
we'll actually take off the collimating lens . . . shining this pure
beam right on to the holographic plate and object.
To make holograms, we'll actually take off the
collimating lens. Without the lens, the direct output from the laser spreads
out with a highly eccentric elliptical profile. Since the beam
encounters no external optical elements, the light has no mottled patterns
caused by interference and diffractions, and appears perfectly clean. In other
words, we'll be shining this pure beam right on to the holographic plate and
The responsible parent or teacher is advised to
remove the lens and the small tension spring before allowing the student to
use the laser. This way, the power density received by human eyes will not
exceed that received when looking at an ordinary grocery store laser scanner.
When the laser is not in use, replace the collimating lens (with or without
the tension spring). This helps ensure that you won't lose the lens and, more
importantly, will help keep dust out of the laser.
If you are using your own "laser pointer" for making holograms, know many
laser pointers and diodes do not have frequency stabilizing circuits (like the
one above), which is required for holography. Moreover, since most laser
pointers do not have a removable collimating lens, you must buy a special
optical lens to spread the beam. With two lenses (four lens surfaces) through
which the laser beam must shine, there may be many objectionable patterns on
the resulting beam due to the four lens surfaces and the dirt on them.
3. STABLE SUPPORT FOR
excellent support for such a small laser is a wooden clothespin, as shown
below. For mechanical stability and maneuverability, the clothespin
holding the laser is stuck into a cup of sand, salt, or sugar (not
pepper!). On the other hand, for schools with available laboratory
hardware, the clothespin can be glued to a rod and mounted on a lab stand with
a right-angle clamp.
The wooden clothespin offers another
advantage. It being a thermal insulator, the laser will reach thermal,
electrical, and frequency stability a few minutes after it is turned on,
assuming batteries are used as its power source. An alternative support would
be a rubber-tipped thermometer holder.
4. REFLECTION HOLOGRAM BY “CONTACT
“white light reflection hologram” is the simplest to make. We advocate the
“contact copy” method, whereby you lean the holographic plate (holoplate) directly
against the object during exposure. As long as there is no relative movement
between the object and the plate, no vibration isolation is needed.
will need the diode laser discussed above, a supply of Slavich PFG-03M 2.5 x
2.5 inch plates
(63mm x 63mm), and a JD-4 processing kit (or PFG-01 plates with JD-2). All of these items are included
in the HOLOKITTM
Holography Kits that can be purchased from Integraf's
will make both
reflection and transmission holograms. Detailed instructions accompany the the
slightly trickier, one can also use PFG-01 holographic film sheets sandwiched
and clipped between two glass plates instead of using holographic plates.
Develop with JD-2. For the instructions below, substitute the properly
sandwiched film sheet for the holographic glass plates. See our article on how
holographic film sheets for important details.
4.2 Preparing the object
choice and preparation of the object is crucial: (1) it should be made of a
solid material such as a quarter or dime (no furry or fabrics); (2) it must appear bright when
illuminated with the red laser light; and (3) it must not move or deform.
your first time making a hologram, try to avoid choosing objects that are
fabric or fury (e.g. teddy bears) because these objects deform easily.
Also avoid large plastic objects as they tend to expand and contract with the
slightest change in temperature (even from the heat of your fingers!). For
best results, try metal or porcelain objects that can be easily illuminated
with laser light and are no larger than the size of the holoplate, such as
there is any doubt about potential movement, you could glue the object to a
stable wood or metal platform where the
hologram will be made. The picture below shows a more elaborate, but
optional, way of mounting the object. The object is glued to a small platform and held from behind by a metal block to prevent the object from
leaning back. The platform has three round-headed screws from the bottom
for three-point support. The upper parts of two of the screws can be
used as stops when the holographic plate is placed in front of the object for
exposure, preventing any slippage.
If your object or holographic film plate moves even 1/1000th of an inch
during exposure, your hologram will not likely turn out. So avoid
talking, music, noise, walking around, air currents, creaky floors, soft
objects, temperature changes to the object . . . . What other things can
you think of that might cause tiny movements or vibration?
Another way to dampen movement or vibration
is by placing the object on a computer mousepad, or even better, a tray of
sand, salt, sugar (or even kitty litter).
Prepare the chemical processing solutions
and layout the processing trays as directed by the instructions that accompany
the JD-4 (or
JD-2) kits. Although our chemicals solutions are termed
non-volatile, chemicals evaporate over time and may cause nose and throat
irritations. Use the chemicals in a ventilated area.
It is not necessary to have a completely dark room.
However, the room should be sufficiently dark so that one cannot read in it. Use a
standard night-light if necessary so that you can move about safely. Block any direct
light from reaching the holography system.
4.3. Making a
Carefully follow these
steps to align and expose the hologram to the laser:
Adjust the laser in its
holder so that the beam spreads out horizontally.
Place the object at a
distance of 35 to 40 cm from the laser.
Place a white card
behind the object and adjust the laser while looking at the shadow on the
card. Adjust the position of the laser until the object is optimally
illuminated. Then remove the white card.
Place an opaque
cardboard near the laser to block the light from reaching the object. This
will serve like the shutter of a camera.
Remove a holographic
its container (in the darkest part of the room), and close the container.
Lean the holographic
the object, making certain it will not slip or move; the emulsion (sticky
side) should touch the object.
Allow 10 seconds for
the object to settle, and tell everyone in the room to hold still.
Now, lift the “shutter”
slightly off the table while still blocking the laser light, and wait 2
seconds for the vibration to subside.
Then, lift the shutter
all the way up to expose the holographic plate and object for 10 seconds (5
seconds minimum, longer is OK up to 40 seconds). Then, block the light
Finally, process the
exposed holographic plate according to instructions that accompany the
JD-2 if you are using PFG-01 plates or film sheets).
Optionally, place your
holographic plate in a solution of
for 20 to 30 seconds. Photoflo is a wetting agent that helps
holograms turn out cleaner and clearer.
It reduces streaks and
promotes more uniform and quicker drying.
While PhotoFlo is not required to make a hologram, it does help them look
After the hologram is
thoroughly dried, it can be viewed with a point source of incandescent light
such as that from a projector, flashlight, or the sun. You cannot use
diffused light sources such as frosted bulbs and florescent lamps. For best
results, spray paint the emulsion (sticky) side with a diffuse black paint.
This protects the emulsion and provides a dark background to enhance the
visibility of the image.