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"Dots" of plasma created by lasers create a three dimensional figure in open air - Courtesy AIST
By creating plasma in open air with lasers, Japanese scientists are working on a true 3D display

The Japanese National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST) announced an exciting breakthrough in optoelectronics -- a working three dimensional display.  The display does not rely on any sort of optical illusion or disorientation. Instead, infrared lasers are aligned to converge and create small amounts of plasma.  The plasma acts as a floating "dot" on top of the laser grid. 

The infrared laser pulses across several reflectors so that 100 dots can be created per second.  The initial reports from AIST are a little light on details, but it appears as though the plasma dots can be drawn up to several meters away from the laser source. It also appears as though the device needs a vapor source with specific electron/ion content in order to generate the dots. 


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Interesting, but not the holy grail
By Fluppeteer on 2/10/2006 7:50:13 AM , Rating: 2
An interesting way of doing it, but "true" 3D displays have
been done before (multiple layers of LCDs, projecting an image
on a moving mirror, etc.) - although this version does offer
a bit more potential resolution.

The disadvantage of these technologies over multiple-view
displays (LCD shuttered stereo displays, lenticular overlays,
true holographic displays) is that they can't provide proper
occlusion information - you can always see the "back" of a
surface through the front (assuming the back is visible from
any angle), and you can see through objects to those behind.
They do have the benefit that there aren't steps between
viewing angles, though - the 3D effect is continuous. I suspect
the multi-view displays are the way forward, because it's easier
to add resolution than to overcome a fundamental problem with
the display (unless there's a way to make bits of the display
area opaque - anyone know a way to make a plasma cloud up when
hit by UV light?)

I last heard this kind of technology mentioned for 3D printing,
using a solution which solidified when hit by two lasers at
the same time. I'm not sure that anything ever came of it, though.

You also have to worry a bit where the lasers go after they
leave the display area. :-)

--
Fluppeteer




RE: Interesting, but not the holy grail
By rushnrockt on 2/10/2006 11:27:12 AM , Rating: 2
"I last heard this kind of technology mentioned for 3D printing,
using a solution which solidified when hit by two lasers at
the same time. I'm not sure that anything ever came of it, though."

Would that happen to be rapid prototyping? Which is basically an industry in itself nowadays? I am pretty sure that's what you are talking about.

"You also have to worry a bit where the lasers go after they
leave the display area. :-)"
My guess would be that they lose focus, so no worries, it won't burn your hair off.



By bob661 on 2/10/2006 11:47:32 AM , Rating: 2
I'm more worried about my block and tackle than my hair.


RE: Interesting, but not the holy grail
By woRLD on 2/10/2006 7:43:30 PM , Rating: 2
"I last heard this kind of technology mentioned for 3D printing, using a solution which solidified when hit by two lasers at the same time. I'm not sure that anything ever came of it, though."

Yes, it's called SLA (stereo lithography), and widely used. The equipment is not cheap, but great for essentially faxing a key to someone that's locked out of somewhere across country :-). It's used for rapid-prototyping in R&D environments and for modeling bone structures in the medical industry. I never actually used it, but did some research on it a few years ago (before Google).


By Fluppeteer on 2/11/2006 4:11:36 PM , Rating: 2
> > I last heard this kind of technology mentioned for 3D printing,
> > using a solution which solidified when hit by two lasers at
> > the same time. I'm not sure that anything ever came of it, though.

> Would that happen to be rapid prototyping? Which is basically an
> industry in itself nowadays? I am pretty sure that's what you are
> talking about.

> Yes, it's called SLA (stereo lithography), and widely used. The
> equipment is not cheap, but great for essentially faxing a key to
> someone that's locked out of somewhere across country :-). It's
> used for rapid-prototyping in R&D environments and for modeling
> bone structures in the medical industry. I never actually used it,
> but did some research on it a few years ago (before Google).

Cool - thank you, I consider myself to have been informed. :-)

I think I last read about this technique in a children's book
about future technology in the late 1970s, and managed to miss
all references to it since. Nice to know that they got *something*
right. (The hover cars aren't quite so prevalent...)

I've seen the "3D printers" from ZCorp, which are based on ink-jets,
and are also for prototyping. I guess they're more prone to turn
up at trade shows, since I doubt SLA hardware is very portable!

Thanks for letting me know I wasn't imagining it. :-)

--
Fluppeteer


"Well, we didn't have anyone in line that got shot waiting for our system." -- Nintendo of America Vice President Perrin Kaplan











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