Structure and principle of the proposed holographic camera

KAIST builds a high-resolution 3D holographic sensor using a single mask​

Structure and principle of the proposed holographic camera

Figure 1. Structure and principle of the proposed holographic camera. The amplitude and phase information of light scattered from a holographic camera can be measured.



Holographic cameras can provide more realistic images than ordinary cameras thanks to their ability to acquire 3D information about objects. However, existing holographic cameras use interferometers that measure the wavelength and refraction of light through the interference of light waves, which makes them complex and sensitive to their surrounding environment.

On August 23, a KAIST research team led by Professor YongKeun Park from the Department of Physics announced a new leap forward in 3D holographic imaging sensor technology. 

The team proposed an innovative holographic camera technology that does not use complex interferometry. Instead, it uses a mask to precisely measure the phase information of light and reconstruct the 3D information of an object with higher accuracy.

The team used a mask that fulfills certain mathematical conditions and incorporated it into an ordinary camera, and the light scattered from a laser is measured through the mask and analyzed using a computer. This does not require a complex interferometer and allows the phase information of light to be collected through a simplified optical system. With this technique, the mask that is placed between the two lenses and behind an object  plays an important role. The mask selectively filters specific parts of light,, and the intensity of the light passing through the lens can be measured using an ordinary commercial camera. This technique combines the image data received from the camera with the unique pattern received from the mask and reconstructs an object’s precise 3D information using an algorithm.

This method allows a high-resolution 3D image of an object to be captured in any position. In practical situations, one can construct a laser-based holographic 3D image sensor by adding a mask with a simple design to a general image sensor. This makes the design and construction of the optical system much easier. In particular, this novel technology can capture high-resolution holographic images of objects moving at high speeds, which widens its potential field of application.

A moving doll captured by a conventional camera and the proposed holographic camera
Figure 2. A moving doll captured by a conventional camera and the proposed holographic camera. When taking a picture without focusing on the object, only a blurred image of the doll can be obtained from a general camera, but the proposed holographic camera can restore the blurred image of the doll into a clear image.

The results of this study, conducted by Dr. Jeonghun Oh from the KAIST Department of Physics as the first author, were published in Nature Communications on August 12 under the title, "Non-interferometric stand-alone single-shot holographic camera using reciprocal diffractive imaging".

Dr. Oh said, “The holographic camera module we are suggesting can be built by adding a filter to an ordinary camera, which would allow even non-experts to handle it easily in everyday life if it were to be commercialized.” He added, “In particular, it is a promising candidate with the potential to replace existing remote sensing technologies.”

This research was supported by the National Research Foundation’s Leader Research Project, the Korean Ministry of Science and ICT’s Core Hologram Technology Support Project, and the Nano and Material Technology Development Project.

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