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Avalon Holographics, headquartered in St. John’s, collaborates with nanofabrication facilities at both the University of Waterloo and the University of Alberta to create and test nano-sized devices for holographic display technologies. The devices will ultimately produce a life-like display that is “nearly indecipherable from the real thing,” says the company’s president, Wally Haas.

In the past, holograms have relied on a system of mirrors to manipulate light and create a 3D effect, explains Greg Holloway, a researcher at Waterloo’s Quantum NanoFab facility. But a much higher fidelity 3D projection can be created using nano-sized structures on the scale of the wavelength of light. The structures cause the light to bend, yielding a 3D projection.

They are essentially tiny pillars mounted on glass that Dr. Holloway sculpts into the desired shape using electron-beam lithography, which uses a high-energy beam of electrons to burn away material. The resulting device is 100 microns in size, barely visible.

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Nine of the company’s 40 employees also work on developing holographic devices at the nanoFAB Fabrication & Characterization Centre at U of A, which is the country’s largest clean room open to industry use.

Mr. Haas says these research facilities are indispensable to his company’s success – the precision of the electron-beam lithography equipment at Waterloo, for example, allows Avalon to advance its technologies further than they otherwise could. And about the U of A facility, he says, “Without it, we’d shut down. We are lucky to have access to its size and capability.”

Produced by Randall Anthony Communications. The Globe’s editorial department was not involved in its creation.

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