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Once, holograms were just a scientific curiosity. But thanks to the rapid development of lasers, they have gradually moved centre stage, appearing on the security imagery for credit cards and bank notes, in science fiction movies – most memorably Star Wars – and even “live” on stage when long-dead rapper Tupac reincarnated for fans at the Coachella music festival in 2012.

Holography is the photographic process of recording light that is scattered by an object, and presenting it in a three-dimensional way. Invented in the early 1950s by the Hungarian-British physicist Dennis Gabor, the discovery later earned him the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1971.

Beyond banknotes, passports and controversial rappers, holography has become an essential tool for other practical applications including data storage, biological microscopy, medical imaging and medical diagnosis. In a technique called holographic microscopy, scientists make holograms to decipher biological mechanisms in tissues and living cells. For example, this technique is routinely used to analyse red blood cells to detect the presence of malaria parasites and to identify sperm cells for IVF processes.

But now we have discovered a new type of quantum holography to overcome the limitations of conventional holographic approaches. This groundbreaking discovery could lead to improved medical imaging and speed up the advance of quantum information science. This is a scientific field that covers all technologies based on quantum physics, including quantum commputing and quantum communications.

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