Student research program set to inspire holographic phones

Phone in person's hand depicting holographic projections.

Research students from the Australian National University (ANU) and the Friedrich Schiller University (FSU) in Germany will collaborate to invent technology that could make smartphones thinner, lighter and able to produce holograms.

The PhD researchers could develop imaging technologies that make science fiction movies such as Star Wars a reality.

Holograms perform the most complex manipulations of light, including storing and reproduction of all information carried by light in 3D. In contrast, standard photographs and computer monitors capture and display only a portion of 2D information.

The joint international research training group will support 39 PhD candidates from the two universities in the field of optics and photonics, thanks to €5 million funding from the German Research Foundation (DFG) and additional support from ANU.

Subject to international borders reopening, the student research program will begin early next year and run until 2026. Doctoral Candidates will receive financial support to study in person at both universities and may receive a dual PhD degree.

ANU Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Innovation) Professor Keith Nugent said the program offers a globally competitive and comprehensive package of scientific research and professional development for postgraduate students.

"Friedrich Schiller University and ANU are two leading research organisations in the meta-optics fields, with ANU the headquarters of the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Transformative Meta-Optical Systems, known as TMOS," he said.

"This collaboration cements our strategic partnership with Germany in the rapidly growing area of modern optics. It has the potential to fast-track research outcomes as students return from their international placements with new skills they can then pass on to their colleagues."

TMOS Centre Director Professor Dragomir Neshev said the partnership acknowledges over 20 years of photonics collaboration between the two universities.

"Friedrich Schiller University has an excellent research program and Jena, where the university is located, is considered the 'City of Photonics' in Europe with more than 200 photonics-related companies based there.

"We're excited to be able to give our students exposure to the industry in such an impactful way and are incredibly excited about what will come from this collaboration."  

FSU Professor Isabelle Staude said incredible achievements have been the result of close collaboration between scientists throughout history.

"We're confident that continuing this tradition is going to lead to some remarkable breakthroughs in the field of nanophotonics."

The ANU team includes researchers Duk-Yong Choi, Lan Fu, Chennupati Jagadish, Patrick Kluth, Ping Koy Lam, Dragomir Neshev, Elena Ostrovskaya, Ilya Shadrivov, Andrey Sukhorukov, and Hoe Tan, Fiona Beck and Kylie Catchpole, Yueri Lu and Zongyou Yin.

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