On July 2nd, an optoclone exhibition was opened at the State History Museum of the South Ural Region. Optoclones are ultra-realistic full-color holograms, which show images of the Diamond Fund and the State Fund of Precious Metals and Precious Stones of the Russian Federation.
Dean of the Faculty of Physics of the SUSU Institute of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, Professor Nataliya Dmitrievna Kundikova was the honored guest of the special event. This unique exhibit was presented to the broad public for the first time. The exhibits were presented by the Russian State Depository for Precious Metals and the Saint Petersburg National Research University of Information Technologies, Mechanics, and Optics (ITMO University), with whom SUSU has maintained friendly relationship for many years.
Optical clones are advanced holograms which are difficult to differentiate from real jeweler’s art – to the smallest detail they show the color, form, structure, and even the sparkle of precious stones. The exhibition “Treasures of the Russian Government” consists of 11 optoclones, which show items of historical value: a flask by Faberge, exhibits from the silver collection of Pavel Sazikov, a 19th century jeweler: “Kolokolchick” (“Bell”); “Troyka” (“Triplet”); “Pastushok” (“Little Shepherd”); a dish for drinking – a small dipper; two medals – Saint Catherine and Saint Alexander Nevsky; a tourmaline bow-shaped brooch from of Catherine II; a modern crown; and a rattle whistle inlaid with precious stones, which was gifted to Emperor Alexander I in his childhood. They have been placed in the hall of the museum’s Eastern Tower alongside real objects on display. The exhibition was opened by museum Director Vladimir Bogdanovskiy.
“We opened an interesting, bright exhibition of optoclones, which is being showed to the broad public for the first time. When we prepared this exhibition, both the museum’s workers and I had concerns about whether or not holograms would differ from the authentic objects hand-made by the masters, and how this would be fulfilled with the help of modern developments in the field of optics. Now we see that the real objects presented in our exhibit hall combine well with this exhibition.”
The exhibits were created by the method of Russian scientist Yuri Denisyuk – one of the founders of optical holography, whose portrait is placed in the center of the exhibition. Researchers from ITMO perfected the technology, thanks to which holograms became more realistic.
“Holography was born in the 1960s. First they created monochrome and color holograms which did not fully look like the object they were showing. The unique thing about the modern stage of holography is that perfected laser systems and control systems have been created: all three lasers – red, green, and blue – combine into one white beam, which is directed at the object. Due to the compactness of this system, it can fit into a small mobile camera, and we can create a hologram right in the vault, which was impossible before. The second component allowing for the creation of realistic optoclones is high-quality materials: unique photographic plates with a high level of photosensitivity and fineness. The emulsion it is covered in plays no smaller a role,” explains Professor of Saint Petersburg National Research University of Information Technologies, Mechanics, and Optics, Sergey Stafeev.
However, recording a hologram is just part of the work. To obtain an ultra-realistic image on photoplates which can be represented in an exhibition, it must be recreated with the help of a compact lamp with “Alferov” LEDs and light filters, which combine the light beams into one. This innovative technology was praised by the representatives of the Chelyabinsk Region Government.
“What we have seen today is the future of museums and exhibitions. The objects of the Russian Diamond Fund do not leave their vaults, but when looking at optoclones, we felt like they were really here. And we’re pleased that this exhibition was opened for the first time in Russia namely in the Chelyabinsk Region,” states Deputy Governor of the Region Vadim Evdokimov.
The meeting was attended by the Head of the Federal Public Institution “State Institution for the Formation of the State Fund of Precious Metals and Precious Stones of the Russian Federation, Storage, Release, and Use of Precious Metals and Precious Stones (“Gokhran”) in the Ministry of Finance of the Russian Federation” Andrey Yurin, who spoke about the unique experience of working on creating this hologram:
“These exhibits of the Gokhran have never been presented to the public. We wanted as many people as possible, in Russia and abroad, to see them. We didn’t know how the objects would behave, and for us, the most important thing is to preserve their condition. But after a few tests, we understood that this technology is absolutely safe, and it shows all of the nuances – volume, color, and even the way light plays on the faces of precious stones.”
The Dean of the Faculty of Physics in the SUSU Institute of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, Professor Nataliya Kundikova, told us that the field of creating holograms is also being developed at South Ural State University.
“I am very happy for this success that our colleagues from Saint Petersburg have shown. This is the fusion of art, science, and the highest technologies. The first monochrome holograms simply cannot be compared to the optoclones that were presented today at the exhibition. Since 1993, we have been working with research groups from ITMO; we have similar fields of scientific interest. We also worked on holograms, but slightly different ones – dynamic holograms, which could be used in fully optical computers. To create any hologram, there must be certain conditions which prevent the interference of outside noises. At the SUSU Faculty of Physics, there is a laboratory, the foundation of which is not connected to the walls of the building or the surrounding land. These are the ideal conditions for creating a hologram, including those with artistic value. You need the best equipment,” notes Nataliya Dmitrievna.
In addition, since students of South Ural State University have knowledge and skills in the field of holography and can explain how to create optoclones, they were offered a chance to become guides for this exhibition, which will be open until September 17th.