FAQ - Holography Supplies
To get started, the easiest and most economical thing to do is to start with our Standard Holokit or Student Holokit. These kits provides all the essentials you need to make both reflection (viewable with a spot light) and transmission (view with laser light) holograms, as well do other experiments. These kits were designed with easy and affordability in mind. Holograms made using this kit can be quick dried, thus is a suitable project for a school laboratory. You should also definitely look the article featured on this website entitled "Simple Holography: The Easiest Way to Make Holograms". This article shows how to make excellent holograms using our holography diode laser, without the need for advanced mirrors, beam splitters, etc.
If it's your or your students' first time making a holograms, we recommend you use the kits that include the holographic glass plates (Standard Holokit and Student Holokit) instead of the film sheets (Budget Holokit). It is easier to succeed in making your first hologram with holographic glass plates because you don't have the complexity of having to sandwich the film sheets between glass plates. If you've successfully made holograms before, the Budget Holokit could fit you needs. It will save you some money and allow you to try more making more advanced holograms using film sheets.
It's because holographic film sheets can easily move during exposure. If the holographic film bends or moves even one thousandth of an inch during exposure, your hologram will not turn out. Instead, you will see gray blotches, irregular-shaped rings when you try to view the hologram, or worse. One way to minimize film movement is by sandwiching the holographic film sheet between two glass plates. For details, see our article "How to Use Holographic Film"
PFG-01 and PFG-03M plates require red laser light for making holograms and can make reflection and transmission holograms. Use PFG-03 plates (processed with JD-4) if you want to make the especially high quality reflection holograms viewable with white light. PFG-01 plates and film (processed with JD-2 or -3), on the other hand, make fairly good white light viewable reflection holograms and excellent transmission holograms.
If you have green or blue laser light, use VRP plates (and process with JD-2).
If you have the luxury of red, green, and blue lasers, use PFG-03C to make full color holograms. The detailed method of doing this can be found in the March/April (1996) issue of the Journal of Imaging Science and Technology.
Both JD-2 and JD-3 chemical kits are for processing reflection and transmission holograms recorded on PFG-01 plates. The choice between the two is based on whether your school allows the use of potassium dichromate. In general, JD-2 is appropriate for high schools and universities, while JD-3 is most appropriate for middle schools.
The developing chemicals in both kits are the same. Only the bleach is different. For JD-2, the bleach includes potassium dichromate and sodium bisulfate. For JD-3, the bleach is much more benign, using copper sulfate. The JD-3 process requires the extra step at the end of redevelopment using vitamin C, under bright light.
Unlike the two developer kits just described, JD-4 cannot be used on PFG-01 plates. Instead, it's used only to develop PFG-03M, VRP (green sensitive), and "BB" plates. JD-4 is ideal for making holograms during lecture demonstrations or laboratory exercises where many students make many holograms in a limited time. That's because JD-4 hardens the emulsion on PFG-03, thus making it possible for one to significantly reduce drying time by using warm air (from a hair dryer). The total processing time may be as short as three minutes, from developing through drying.
To learn about how to use your JD kits, see our online tutorial on the JD kits. Always follow all safety procedures for lasers and chemicals.
It's best to make and store each of your solutions A and your solution B separately. Once each is made, however, don't mix the entire solution A with solution B in one session. Mix only enough solution A with solution B needed for your session. The combined solution lasts about one day. Kept separately, the remaining solution A and solution B can be stored for future use.
All solutions should be kept in tightly capped plastic or glass bottles. For solution A, try to have minimum air on top of the solution as well, otherwise it turns yellow (still OK) then brown (time to dump!). Refrigerate A when not in use. The B and bleach solutions will last for over a year, even at room temperature.
FormaFlo is a wetting agent. When used (dilute 600 to 1 with distilled water), the soaked hologram will dry evenly and minimizes streaks and smudges. FormaFlo is not essential but it is high recommended. Without it, your holograms may look smudgy and be difficult to view.
If you already have a laser, make sure it's a helium-neon or diode laser with a beam power output of 5.0 milliwatt (mW) or less (which emits a red color light wavelength 633 nanometer (nm) or longer. This is typical of lasers used in store scanners and are called class IIIa lasers. If your laser has outputs higher than 5 mW, consult the Department of Public Safety in your state and find out what its regulations are concerning lasers. Also, if you do use of a HeNe (Helium-Neon) laser with more power than 5 milliwatts, it is worth buying a spatial filter (several hundred dollars) or a small short radius front surfaced mirror to spread out the light.
As for using laser pointers to make holograms, you need to buy a lens or a spherical mirror to spread out the light. Note that each optical surface will waste some light and introduce mottled patterns, making the expanding beam look dirty in most cases. Mirrors and lenses can run $30 on the cheap end and up. Not all laser pointers make holograms since most of them cannot provide a stable power and frequency output.
If you want to be sure your laser makes hologram, we recommend the inexpensive Holography Diode Laser offered in our catalog. Unlike most laser pointers, our diode laser spreads the light out naturally when you unscrew the collimating lens. Thus, there's no need for any mirrors or spatial filters. You simply shine the beam on the holographic emulsion and object. Since the light does not have to encounter any external surfaces, there is no net loss and the beam remains perfectly clean. Also our Holography Diode Laser has a circuit to stabilize the output (a necessity for making good holograms). Such stability is not always found in laser pointers and other diode lasers.