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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Blanche, Pierre-Alexandre, author.

Field guide to holography / Pierre-Alexandre Blanche.

pages cm. – (SPIE field guides ; FG31)

Includes bibliographical references and index.

ISBN 978-0-8194-9957-8

1. Holography. I. Title. II. Series: SPIE field guides; FG31.

QC449.B53 2014



Published by


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The content of this book reflects the thought of the author(s). Every effort has been made to publish reliable and accurate information herein, but the publisher is not responsible for the validity of the information or for any outcomes resulting from reliance thereon.

Printed in the United States of America.

First printing

Introduction to the Series

Welcome to the SPIE Field Guides—a series of publications written directly for the practicing engineer or scientist. Many textbooks and professional reference books cover optical principles and techniques in depth. The aim of the SPIE Field Guides is to distill this information, providing readers with a handy desk or briefcase reference that provides basic, essential information about optical principles, techniques, or phenomena, including definitions and descriptions, key equations, illustrations, application examples, design considerations, and additional resources. A significant effort will be made to provide a consistent notation and style between volumes in the series.

Each SPIE Field Guide addresses a major field of optical science and technology. The concept of these Field Guides is a format-intensive presentation based on figures and equations supplemented by concise explanations. In most cases, this modular approach places a single topic on a page, and provides full coverage of that topic on that page. Highlights, insights, and rules of thumb are displayed in sidebars to the main text. The appendices at the end of each Field Guide provide additional information such as related material outside the main scope of the volume, key mathematical relationships, and alternative methods. While complete in their coverage, the concise presentation may not be appropriate for those new to the field.

The SPIE Field Guides are intended to be living documents. The modular page-based presentation format allows them to be updated and expanded. We are interested in your suggestions for new Field Guide topics as well as what material should be added to an individual volume to make these Field Guides more useful to you. Please contact us at

John E. Greivenkamp, Series Editor

College of Optical Sciences

The University of Arizona

The Field Guide Series

  • Adaptive Optics, Second Edition, Robert Tyson & Benjamin Frazier

  • Atmospheric Optics, Larry Andrews

  • Binoculars and Scopes, Paul Yoder, Jr. & Daniel Vukobratovich

  • Diffractive Optics, Yakov Soskind

  • Displacement Measuring Interferometry, Jonathan D. Ellis

  • Geometrical Optics, John Greivenkamp

  • Holography, Pierre-Alexandre Blanche

  • Illumination, Angelo Arecchi, Tahar Messadi, & John Koshel

  • Image Processing, Khan M. Iftekharuddin & Abdul Awwal

  • Infrared Systems, Detectors, and FPAs, Second Edition, Arnold Daniels

  • Interferometric Optical Testing, Eric Goodwin & Jim Wyant

  • Laser Pulse Generation, Rüdiger Paschotta

  • Lasers, Rüdiger Paschotta

  • Lens Design, Julie Bentley & Craig Olson

  • Microscopy, Tomasz Tkaczyk

  • Nonlinear Optics, Peter Powers

  • Optical Fabrication, Ray Williamson

  • Optical Fiber Technology, Rüdiger Paschotta

  • Optical Lithography, Chris Mack

  • Optical Thin Films, Ronald Willey

  • Optomechanical Design and Analysis, Katie Schwertz & James Burge

  • Physical Optics, Daniel Smith

  • Polarization, Edward Collett

  • Probability, Random Processes, and Random Data Analysis, Larry Andrews

  • Radiometry, Barbara Grant

  • Special Functions for Engineers, Larry Andrews

  • Spectroscopy, David Ball

  • Terahertz Sources, Detectors, and Optics, Créidhe O’Sullivan & J. Anthony Murphy

  • Visual and Ophthalmic Optics, Jim Schwiegerling

Field Guide to Holography

Few people can forget their first time seeing a hologram: the ghostlike image floating in space, changing its appearance in response to movement. Holograms have stirred childlike wonder in scientists and rapt curiosity in generations of schoolchildren. Abundantly depicted in science fiction novels and movies, holography is still imprinted with the dream of a better future through science and technology. Nowadays, holography plays a critical role in applications as diverse as credit card security, nondestructive testing of composite materials, and data storage and processing. Holography is one of the rare techniques that can transcend the realm of science into the magic of art.

The primary objective of this Field Guide is to present an overview of the various concepts of holography, including a theoretical foundation, a description of the different types of holograms (both optical- and computer-based), techniques used to produce them, and the most common recording materials. It is meant to provide the student, scholar, researcher, engineer, or professor with a broad panorama of the field and to help readers explore holography and understand its technical aspects and methodology.

Holography is not reserved solely for scientists with expensive equipment—it is a hobby and a passion that can be enjoyed by anyone with an interest in science who wants to make their own holograms. I hope that this Field Guide can demystify holography, but keep the wonder untouched and inspire you to discover the beauty of optical sciences.

Pierre-Alexandre Blanche

College of Optical Sciences

The University of Arizona

December 2013

Table of Contents

Glossary ix

Introduction and Basic Concepts 1

Historical Background 1

Optical Field: Plane Wave 2

Optical Field: Complex Notation and Spherical Waves 3

Interference 4

Coherent Waves 6

Diffraction 7

Holograms 8

Diffraction Grating and Orders 9

Holographic Optical Elements 10

Holography outside the Visible Spectrum 11

Theory and Mathematical Formalism 12

Grating Equation 12

Angular Dispersion 13

Bragg’s Law 14

Grating Vector 15

Classification of Holograms 16

Reflection Geometry 17

Transmission Geometry 18

Thin/Thick Criteria 19

Analytic Coupled-Wave Analysis of Thick, Unslanted Gratings 20

Rigorous Coupled-Wave Analysis 22

Dispersion of Thick-Volume Gratings 23

Remarkable Thin Gratings 24

Scalar Theory of Diffraction: Kirchhoff Diffraction Integral 26

Fresnel Diffraction Integral 27

Fraunhofer Diffraction Integral 28

Diffraction by Simple Apertures 29

Remarkable Interference Patterns 31

Interference Recording and Reconstruction Formalization 33

Aberrations in Holograms 35

Computer-Generated Holograms 37

Errors in Computer-Generated Holograms 39

Space–Bandwidth Product 41

Holographic Setups 42

Inline Transmission Hologram (Gabor) 42

Inline Reflection Hologram (Denisyuk) 43

Off-axis Transmission Hologram (Leith and Upatnieks) 44

Imaging Consideration of Transmission Holograms 45

Transfer Hologram (H2) 46

Rainbow Hologram (Benton) 47

Edge-Lit Holograms 48

Holographic Stereograms 49

Color Holograms 50

Lippmann Photography 52

Multiplexing 53

Holographic Interferometry 54

Phase Conjugate Mirror 55

Digital Holography 56

Holographic Television 57

3D Perception and Holograms 58

Phase Stabilization 60

Holographic Recording Materials 62

Silver Halide 62

Photopolymer 63

Dichromated Gelatin 64

Photochromic Materials 65

Photoresists and Embossed Holograms 66

Polarization-Sensitive Material 67

Photorefractive Materials 68

Inorganic and Organic Photorefractive Materials 69

Acousto-optic Modulator (Bragg Cell) 70

Spatial Light Modulators 71

Equation Summary 73

Bibliography 77

Index 78



Unit polarization vector: axx^+ayy^+azz^


Complex vector electric field amplitude (containing the polarization information)


Scalar electric field amplitude


Dot product of the vectors a and b: a·b=m=13ambm


Speed of light


Hologram thickness


Aperture diameter


Digital micromirror device


Elemental surface element (2D)


Electric field (scalar)


Vector electric field


Unit basis vector

Fourier transform


Fresnel number F=(D/2)2/zλ


Imaginary unit i=1




Wave vector |k|=2π/λ


Grating vector |K|=2π/Λ


Liquid crystal on silicon


Integer number


Micro-opto-electro-mechanical system


Index of refraction


Numbers of elements composing a computer-generated hologram

N h

Number of holograms recorded within the media


Position vector m=13xme^m

Real part


Space–bandwidth product


Spatial light modulator


Transverse electric polarization mode (s-polarization)


Transverse magnetic polarization mode (p-polarization)


Scalar electric field in complex notation


Vector electric field in complex notation E=[U]


Complex conjugate of the complex expression U


Interference pattern visibility


Unit Cartesian coordinate vectors


x,y coordinates at position z


Optical axis

Partial derivative


Absorption coefficient


Material dynamic range, either amplitude Δα or phase Δφ


Refractive index modulation (half the amplitude)


Spatial extent in m dimensions


Spatial extent in the x^ direction


Absorption coefficient modulation (half the amplitude)


Light source spectral linewidth in the wavelength domain


Spatial frequency bandwidth


Phase difference


Light source spectral linewidth in the frequency domain


Diffraction efficiency


Beam angle (relative to the surface normal)


Bragg angle


Diffracted beam angle


Incident beam angle


Reflection beam angle


Light wavelength


Grating spacing, distance between Bragg planes


Polarization vector angle


Phase angle


Slant angle


Light-wave frequency


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