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Litiholographics Kit - Dec 21, 2004

Introduction

Back in November, during the PCGG-II gathering, several people spent a lot of time and effort trying to get a hologram out of the Liti Holographics material. After the gathering I put together a review and sent it off to Liti for comment.

I received a call from Paul at Liti a few days later and during that call he assured me that they have had regular success making holograms with their material and that many other people, customers, family and friends, have also done so. He also said that he and John Klayer would be swapping John's batch out with new material so John could try again and Liti could test his batch to see what might have gone wrong.

By the end of the call I'd agreed to hold off on releasing the review for a few days to give John and Paul a chance to test the new and old material.

A few days ended up being a month due to a heavy workload and a couple of long business trips. As of today I've not heard any news from Liti, and John hasn't had a chance to give the new material a going over but I think a public release of the review is past due..

Review

Various people spent a considerable amount of time trying to get something, anything, useful out of the Liti material. This was primarily John and Colin pushing the testing along and although the rest of us kibitzed from the sidelines I expect you'll be hearing more from them on the subject. What follows are my impressions gained from seeing the process from the sidelines.

Many, if not all, of the participants were surprised that Liti doesn't supply any detailed instructions on how to use the kit but are apparently marketing the material to school teachers and kids, although at $100 a kit it's not something that will be purchased lightly.

The kit itself contained a small platform to hold a 2x3" plate, a small object, a lens to expand the beam, photopolymer film and a diode laser. They appear to expect that people will use this on any available table and in theory it should work without a problem.

As far as I'm aware, not a single object exposure was a success. I know that at least one grating was created but given the goals of the kit no newcomer would be able to make a grating without adding their own parts and who wants to create a grating? Certainly not the uninitiated. On the rest of the plate there was either a random flash of light that most often didn't look like fringes but rather color changes in the uneven polymer layer.

Some wondered about the shelf life of the polymer and speculated that perhaps it was either a few days or a week and that by the time we'd started experimenting the material was well past its usable age, being probably two weeks old. Some speculated that it was useless to begin with. My hope is that the material simply has no appreciable shelf-life and that it's something that Liti is working on. Since Liti is selling these kits as complete do it yourself method of creating holograms, marketing them directly to the uninitiated public and giving no detailed information on the characteristics or lifetime of the material, we had a reasonable expectation that the kit would work out of the box. It doesn't. Even the laser was shipped incorrectly with a 6v battery supply for a 3v diode. This is clearly a product that was rushed to market and is simply not ready yet.

As far as the environment used goes, the first tests were using John's hexcan table resting on a piece of foam on a wooden desk in a small quiet room. John has tested his hexcan table in a similar environment and found it to be very stable in an interferometer. After three or four attempts, the table was moved directly to the floor which was compact carpet on a concrete slab. After another few failures of gratings and object models, the attempts were given up for the night. It was clear that the material just didn't work and while there were suggestions that we attempt an exposure or two on the newport table just to say we tried, it was pretty clear that wasn't going to make a difference at all. On the other hand, what was John going to do with the polymer? Throw it out? We may as well keep experimenting as long as there was time. On Sunday afternoon the setup was moved to the newport and a split-beam transmission was set up using a HeNe and the standard equipment available on the Padiyar's table. As expected, there was nothing on at all once the exposures were complete. If eight holographers couldn't make this material work, no school teacher or student is going to be able to.

My recommendation to them is to stop shipping the product for a short time and take advantage of the people like us who are more than willing to act as beta testers for their product. Ship material out to us with guidelines for its use and processing, let us test and provide feedback and assist Liti in getting this product ready for the public. As it stands now, they risk poisoning the market with what they are shipping. There's a lot of promise, but they aren't delivering anything but disappointment as far I can see.

Wrap-up

I'd really like to see this product take off and do well.  Unfortunately Liti isn't providing review material and what they're delivering doesn't appear to work reliably.  The only other review I've been able to find on the net is this one http://j-walkblog.com/blog/comments/D17568_0_1_0_C/ [it has since been removed] along with a few comments on the Holography Forum.  I hope the situation changes soon because there are a lot of budding and experienced holographers who would love to have a material that doesn't require traditional development and the hazards that go with it.

 

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