Denis Gabor and his Invention of Holography

The world of science is filled with brilliant minds who have brought about revolutionary changes in their respective fields. One such scientist is the Hungarian physicist, Professor Denis Gabor. From an early age, Gabor exhibited a keen interest in optics and holography. His pioneering research on holography has been instrumental in the field’s development ever since. Throughout his life, Gabor received many honors and awards for his outstanding work in science. In 1971, he was awarded the Noble Prize for Physics and also became a member of the National Academy of Sciences. Today, let’s take a look at what made Denis Gabor an important figure in holographic technology.

What is Holography?

A hologram is a visual image that is produced by lasers. It is an optical recording of the interference pattern created when laser light is reflected off an object, similar to an image recorded on a projected slide or film. Unlike a projected image, which is viewable only from one side, a hologram can be seen from any angle and appears three-dimensional. Though the word “holography” only emerged in the mid-20th century, the phenomenon has existed since ancient times. In fact, the first holograms were likely carved into stone and discovered by the ancient Greeks. Nowadays, holograms are used in a wide variety of applications, such as credit cards, identification badges, microchips, and laser surgery.

Gabor’s Research on Holography

In the early 1940s, Gabor began his research on holography at the University of California, Berkeley. At the time, little was known about the subject, and most scientists were skeptical that a three-dimensional image could be created by laser light. It wasn’t until 1951, when Gabor published his landmark article, “Holography”, that his research gained recognition. In his paper, Gabor explained how light could be diffracted and focused in such a way that it formed a three-dimensional image that could be viewed from all sides. He also detailed the materials used to create a hologram, such as a laser beam, photographic emulsion, and a light-sensitive surface. Gabor’s research helped to advance the field of holography, and his discoveries are still used today.

The Development of the Gabor hologram

The first Gabor hologram was produced in 1952 by scientist Denis Gabor and his associates at the Imperial College of Science and Technology in London. It was developed using the “new technique of interference” described in Gabor’s paper, “Holography”. The process used to create a Gabor hologram is similar to that of a standard hologram. The main difference between the two is the way in which a Gabor hologram is recorded. Gabor holograms are created on photographic emulsions coated with a layer of silver halide crystals. When light from a laser source is shone through the crystals and reflected off an object, an interference pattern is formed. The pattern is then recorded on the emulsion through a photomicrography lens. Once developed, a Gabor hologram will display a three-dimensional image of the object.

Gabor Stretching Theory and Optical Coherence

The Gabor Stretching Theory is an explanation for optical coherence and holographic image formation. It was first described by Gabor in his paper, “Holographic principle and the nature of light”, published in Nature in 1961. Essentially, Gabor explained that a light wave’s intensity is proportional to its square modulus. This means that as light travels, its intensity (or strength) is reduced by a factor known as the “decay constant”. This reduction in intensity is known as “decay”, and the rate at which it occurs is related to the length of the light’s path. Therefore, the more a light wave travels, the less intense (or weaker) it becomes. Gabor also noted that each portion of a light wave can be considered to be a “standing wave”. These standing waves, he concluded, are responsible for both the coherence and the holographic properties of light.

What are the uses of Gabor holograms?

Gabor holograms can be used to create a wide range of objects and images, including 3D pictures, computer graphics, and biological specimens. They can also be used to create virtual reality and augmented reality applications, or create a sense of movement and depth in 2D images. Gabor holograms are often used in scientific research, such as examining the surface of a microchip or examining a biological specimen at a microscopic level. Gabor holograms can also be used in artistic creations, such as creating a 3D portrait of a loved one, or creating a virtual reality experience in an art gallery.

The Future of Holographic Technology

Holographic technology has come a long way since its discovery in the 1940s. In fact, holography is now used in a wide variety of applications, with many more expected in the future. As holographic technology continues to advance, holograms will become smaller and more powerful, with greater potential for commercial application. They will also become more commonplace, with holographic images appearing in everyday objects such as credit cards, identification badges, and microchips. As technology continues to advance, holography will also continue to advance, expanding in new and innovative directions.


Denis Gabor’s work on holography has had a significant impact on the field of holographic technology. His research has helped to advance holographic technology in a variety of different fields, including science, art, and medicine. Today, holography is used in a wide variety of applications, ranging from computer graphics to credit cards. Gabor’s groundbreaking research is responsible for the development of the Gabor hologram, which is still used today in a wide variety of applications. His discoveries in the field of holography have helped to advance holographic technology in a wide variety of different ways, and they are expected to continue to do so in the future.