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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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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. :-)


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