How to Develop Holograms with the JD-2 Kit

Based on articles by Tung. H. Jeong, Riley Aumiller, Raymond Ro, and Jeff Blyth
Edited by Alec Jeong
© 2007-2017 Integraf

1. Introduction

The JD-2 holography developer and processing kit provides all the chemicals needed for making holograms using Slavich PFG-01, VRP, VRP-M holographic plates and film sheets (for PFG-03 and "BB" emulsions, use JD-4). Simply mix the dry chemicals in the JD-2 kit with water to create the developer components and bleach solution. This article explains step-by-step how to do this and use the JD-2 holography processing kit to make holograms on plates. If you are using holographic film sheets, remove the film sheet from your film holder after exposure before processing.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The following instructions for using the JD-2 holography processing kit have been modified from the actual instructions found in each package of JD-2. Instructions provided in this article are for your convenience only. For your safety and thorough understanding of JD-2, you should rely on the instructions and chemical safety notices that come inside each package of JD-2.

Like many common household cleaners, JD-2 contains chemicals and should be treated with respect. It is good practice to use eye goggles, dust mask, apron and rubber gloves when mixing chemicals. While the chemical solutions have low volatility, working in a ventilated area is recommended.

2. Mix Your Stock Solutions

The photochemicals in the JD-2 kit are used to prepare approximately 1000ml of each of three solutions. You will need to add de-ionized or distilled water, which can be purchased at your local grocery store. It is best to use distilled water that contains no other chemicals although distilled drinking water, which sometimes contains small but negligible amounts of other chemicals, can also be used. Water from your tap generally contains fluoride and other impurities that may reduce the quality of your hologram. For safety and efficiency, teachers or an adult should pre-mix the solutions.

Use three 1 liter (or larger) size clean glass or plastic bottles with leak-proof caps. Label them Part A, Part B, and Bleach respectively.

Fill each of the three bottles with roughly 1000 ml of warm distilled water.

Then, dissolve each of chemical packages listed below one-by-one, in any order, into their respective bottles labeled A, B, and Bleach. Though not usually necessary, you can slightly heat the water until it is luke warm to help dissolve the chemicals. Optionally, you can also prepare each solution in a clean beaker and then pour the solution into the bottle.

Part A Solution (1000ml)

Chemical Amount
Catechol 20 grams
Ascorbic Acid (powder) 10 grams
Sodium Sulfite 10 grams
Urea 75 grams
ADD Distilled water 1000 ml

Part B Solution (1000ml)

Sodium Carbonate, Anhydrous 60 grams
ADD Distilled water 1000 ml

Bleach Solution (1000ml)

Potassium Dichromate 5 grams
Sodium Bisulfate 80 grams
ADD Distilled water 1000 ml

3. Get Everything in Order

Have the following items on hand:

  • Your pre-mixed JD-2 Part A, Part B and Bleach Solution.
  • 1 gallon (4 liters) of distilled or de-ionized water for best results. Tap water may also work, but not as well. Avoid hard water
  • 2 small glass or plastic trays, just large enough so that the hologram you are making can be submerged in a horizontal position.
  • 2 large glass or plastic trays to hold 1 liter of distilled water for rinsing. Tap water may also work.
  • (Optional, but recommended) 1 small or large tray to hold 1 liter of distilled water mixed with about 1 ml of photographic wetting agent such as FormaFlo. You can also use a small tray with less wetting agent, but you should replace the solution after a few holograms. Using a large tray can yield clearer results.
  • 1 rubber glove

Place the trays so that they are in this order as listed:

  1. Developer (A&B mixed together) — small tray
  2. Rinse — large tray
  3. Bleach — small tray
  4. Rinse — large tray
  5. FormaFlo 600 Wetting solution (optional) — small or large tray

You're now ready to pour solutions into the trays.

In tray #1 (small), you'll be creating your developer by mixing Solutions A and B together. It doesn't have to be exact but you should try to mix approximately equal portions of Part A and Part B. Mix only enough so that the hologram to be developed can be totally submerged. Once mixed, the combined A&B solution can be used to develop several holograms, and lasts several hours.

TIP: Once solutions A and B are mixed together, the resulting developer solution lasts only several hours. So, don't mix A and B together until you are ready to make holograms. In fact, only mix enough to process a batch of holograms. Keep the rest in air-tight bottles until you need them for another batch.

In tray #2 (large), pour in one liter of distilled water. This will be used as a rinse.

In tray #3 (small), pour in your bleach solution, just enough for a hologram or two to be totally submerged.

In tray #4 (large), just like before, fill with one liter of distilled water. Again, this will be used as a rinse.

Finally and optionally, in tray #5 (small or large), combine wetting solution with 1 liter of distilled water per the instructions that come with PhotoFlo 600. Using a wetting solution is optional but recommended. It allows the hologram to dry evenly, thus helping you minimize smudges and streaks.

4. Make Your Hologram Exposure

For detailed instructions on making and shooting your holograms, please see our article "Simple Holography".

5. Process Your Holograms

Steps 1 through 4 below must completed in a darkened room with or without a safelight. The final step 5, which is optional, can be done with the lights turned on. Of course, if you turn on the lights, make sure any unused, unprocessed, and unexposed film is safetly stored away.

  1. Develop

    Quickly submerge the plate into the developer so that all parts get wet evenly. Slush it around for about two minutes. The hologram should turn almost black.

  2. Rinse

    Rinse the developed hologram with agitation for at least 20 seconds. For best results and longer lasting holograms, rinse up to three minutes to make help ensure that all of Part A has been rinsed off.

  3. Bleach

    Place the rinsed hologram into the bleaching solution; agitate it until the plate is completely clear (this may take up to two minutes); then, bleach for another 10 seconds.

  4. Rinse again

    Rinse the bleached hologram with agitation for at least 20 seconds (up to 3 minutes).

  5. Finish in wetting solution (optional)

    Place the finished hologram in this FormaFlo 600 solution for about 20 second. Then, remove the hologram to dry. For best results, avoid streaks or runs as you remove the hologram from the solution. The wetting solution helps your holograms dry more evenly and thus look cleaner and clearer.

TIP: In this final step with the wetting solution, it is helpful to turn the lights on. This allows you to observe if your wetting solution has been evenly distributed on the hologram and if there are any runs or streaks. Hold the holographic plate from the sides to avoid potential dripping of solution from your fingers down the hologram.

6. Dry Your Hologram

The hologram is finished except for drying. A good way to dry the hologram plate is to stand it against a vertical surface with the bottom edge resting on a hand-towel or tissue paper. Best results are obtained when it dries naturally in clean, dust-free air. However, if time is limited, the hologram can be quick-dried by holding it vertically and blowing warm air across it with a hair dryer. For holographic film sheets, hang up vertically to dry, using clean and dry clothespins.

7. View Your Hologram

For a reflection hologram, the image can be viewed after thorough drying, using the laser light that exposed it or an incandescent spotlight. Thorough drying may take minutes to hours, depending on ambient conditions and technique. Transmission holograms, on the other hand, can be viewed with laser light even when wet.

8. Wrapping Up

Store your unused mixed chemical solutions in air-tight bottles. To extend the shelf life of Part A and B, protect them from oxidation. To do so, subdivide the solutions into smaller bottles so that the unused portions are filled to the top of the bottles, with little or no air space. For example, it's better to fill two 500ml bottles with the solutions rather than one 1000ml bottle with room at the top. Refrigeration is highly recommended as it will significantly increase shelf-life to several months.

Place packets of unused holographic film or plates in an air-tight ziplock bag, and refrigerate. When it's time to use them again, let the film or plates reach room temperature before opening the plastic bag so as to prevent condensation.

For safety, keep the film plates and chemicals away from children. Always label packages and photochemicals as not to be consumed or ingested, among other warnings deemed necessary.