The Unexpected History of Holography

Lasers Holography

During SPIE Photonics West 2018 conference, UniKLasers (Andy Wells) gave a presentation at a Holography workshop, organised by Prof Hans Bjelkhagen. To make the sharpest images, holographers require ultra-stable single frequency lasers. The audience at the workshop was shown details of the UniKLasers’ BRaMMS technology that delivers the ideal beam characteristics. With coherence lengths well beyond 100 metres, mode-hop free & drift-free wavelengths and high available powers, the UniKLasers range appealed to many of the attendees and attracted interest of various specialists in the holography field.

For me it was fascinating to hear holographers talk about their projects, challenges and achievements at our booth. I find the field of holography something beautifully whimsical (I am not a scientist), even its history is so unusual.

Unexpected history of Holography

In 2017 the Photonics industry celebrated 70 years since Dennis Gabor developed the holography principles. Dennis Gabor was a Hungarian-British electrical engineer and physicist. He made this discovery whilst he was working on improving the resolution of electron microscopes. According to Gabor he first thought of holography on Easter Day in 1947 while he was waiting for a game of tennis. It took only one year for his early experiments to culminate in the first small hologram.

Interestingly enough in 1955, after investigating various optical set-ups to improve the holographic image (to minimize the effect of the conjugate image), Gabor abandoned his research about holography. Gabor thought holography was no longer important and when he was appointed to a Chair of Applied Electron Physics at the Imperial College, London in 1958, he barely mentioned his work on this subject matter.

Even Gordon Rogers, who is often considered to be one of the most enthusiastic researcher in holography, wrote in 1956: “As far I am concerned, I am quite happy to let Diffraction Microscopy die a natural death. I see relatively little future for it, and am looking forward to doing something else.”

However, the invention of the laser by Maiman in 1960 had a tremendous positive impact on the holography. Shortly after the Maiman’s invention, a holographic explosion was originated in the United States. It happened thanks to the contributions of Emmett Leith and Juris Upatnieks (University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, USA), who in 1964 took the concept of the hologram, added the technology of the laser and made first three-dimensional hologram.

Following the holographic explosion, Dennis Gabor was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics 1971 “for his invention and development of the holographic method”.

Gabor’s invention, combined with the development of the laser in 1960’s, has led to an industry that today encompasses head up displays, museum displays & artefacts image reconstruction, authentication, packaging, display, medical applications, virtual reality, solar panel efficiency. The applications of holography keep on continuously growing.

It is unlikely that anyone could have imagined at the time of Dennis Gabor’s discovery that the holography would become such broad and successful global market. According to recent market reports, the holographic display industry alone is expected to be worth $3.57 billion by 2020. Now with the augmented reality establishing itself as a market sector, the demand for high quality holographic images is becoming consistently greater.

Contact us on for any information regarding our Single Frequency CW DPSS lasers with wavelengths 442, 515, 523, 532, 607, 640, 698 nm that are well suited for holography applications.

For more details, check out our laser specifications.