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OptoClones of Russian State Treasures.

At The Holography Conference in Barcelona last November, the Hellenic Institute of Holography (HiH) from Greece won an IHMA Excellence in Holography Award for Best Display or Emerging Technology Application for their OptoClones[TM] of Russian State Treasures from the Moscow Kremlin Diamond Fund. This project was another world first for the HiH who undertook this project, in response to a public competitive tender, in collaboration with ITMO University (St Petersburg) and Gokhran of Russia. In total 11 invaluable historical artworks were recorded into holographic OptoClones.

In the following article we outline the background to the Diamond Fund and provide an overview of the technology used to produce these magnificent and captivating full-colour display holograms using the HiH's portable ZZZyclops[TM] laser camera, special holographic plates produced by Colour Holographic and the HiH H0L0F0S[TM] LED spotlight.

History of the Diamond Fund

The Diamond Fund of the Russian Federation--which resides within the Moscow Kremlin Museum--includes collections of unique nuggets of precious metals, precious stones, jewellery made of precious metals and gemstones that have historical and artistic value.

The collection began to take shape in the 18th century, when Peter The Great of Russia issued a special decree on the conservation of things 'to be state', thereby recognising that the most significant of them must be the property not only of the Royal family, but of the whole Russian state. Precious objects of state regalia, insignia and secular jewellery of many generations of Russian tsars until 1914 were kept in a special Diamond Cabinet at the Winter Palace in St Petersburg.

After the outbreak of the First World War, the precious collection was hastily evacuated to the Moscow Kremlin, where they were kept in the basement for almost eight years.

In 1922, the 'Commission on identification and examination of the decorative and applied art and jewellery' confirmed the unique and historical value of the objects of the former Diamond Cabinet and identified the need for the study and preservation of the collection intact in the state repository of values (Gokhran of the USSR). The exhibition of the Diamond Fund was opened in 1967 when the State Treasury Institution Gokhran was formed, and the famous permanent exhibition Diamond Fund inside Moscow Kremlin Museum opened its gates to the public, allowing visitors to admire official state valuables that have survived since the period of Imperial Russia.

These invaluable museum artefacts almost never left their protected environment as they are considered state treasures of special status.

November 2017 marked the 50th Anniversary of the opening of the Diamond Fund.The Russian government (Ministry of Finance) commissioned for public exposure the OptoClones of the state treasures from the Moscow Kremlin Diamond Fund using an advanced technological Russian invention--namely, reflection display holography.

What is an OptoClone?

OptoClone is the worldwide trademarked name introduced by HiH for a Denisyuk colour hologram recorded with a minimum of three red, green, blue (RGB) lasers and displayed using appropriately optimised illuminants, currently RGB-LED (light emitting diodes) lights, in special display arrangements.

Optoclones exhibit ultra-realistic images that are defined as being 'identical' to the real object as observed by the eye. Ultra-realistic images exhibit a number of characteristics including:

* A full-parallax 3D image;

* Very accurate colour rendition;

* Same scale--no magnification;

* Resolution corresponding to eye resolution;

* Non detectable image blur;

* No field of view limitations;

* Light reflections move as on the object;

* Shadows and detailed surface texture.

Producing the Diamond Fund OptoClones

To produce and display the Diamond Fund OptoClones was not only a technical challenge due to the precious gemstones' behaviour under different light sources, but also a security, logistical and process challenge that included the following:

1. Transportation of proprietary equipment

To enable in-situ holographic recording, HiH transports and installs its proprietary equipment at the museums premises, where the selected treasures are positioned on a special anti-vibration platform by the curators. All OptoClones are originated in situ.

As previously reported when HiH produced the Faberge Imperial Egg OptoClones (see HN March, 2016), HIH developed a unique portable three colour RGB solid state laser holographic recording camera called the ZZZyclops[TM] (Z3RGB) which was used to record the OptoClones within a darkroom tent.

The Z3RGB camera is a computer controlled opto-mechanical device capable of exposing selected, commercially available or experimental panchromatic silver halide emulsions to combined RGB laser beams. The device consists of a main camera unit built on top of a lightweight aluminium honeycomb and a control electronics unit.

2. Special holographic plates

In addition to the Z3RGB camera, required to record the ultra-realistic OptoClones, special panchromatic photo-sensitive high-resolution glass plates of ultra fine grain silver halide emulsions are also required, similar to those used in the early days of conventional photography. The plates supplied for this project originated from Colour Holographic in the UK, and were supplied under an exclusive non-commercial license to the HiH. In total, 120 plates were supplied at two sizes--30 x 40 cm and 20 x 25 cm.

The Diamond Fund artefacts are then exposed for few seconds to laser light, produced by the Z3RGB camera, of very low intensity passing through the holographic plate, on which the reflected light wavefront is recorded. The exposed plate is then developed, processed and dried.

3. Proprietary LED illumination systems

To display the unique analogue hologram (OptoClones), requires a special lighting illumination system to display and represent the original object on a 1:1 scale and in every detail, and at a high degree of fidelity to exhibit the ultra-realistic holographic image.

Using the latest advances in LED technology, the HIH developed a special spotlight called H0L0F0S[TM] that is capable of achieving high quality display reproduction of optoclones.

The H0L0F0S spotlight contains RGB LEDs, mixing optics, lenses and heat sinks, together with a microcontroller to control the intensity of each LED. The spotlight can be fitted with a variety of LEDs at selected wavelengths and more than three different LEDs can be fitted to match the various recording wavelengths. For example, a RRGBB LED configuration can be achieved if a hologram has been recorded with four or five laser wavelengths to obtain improved colour matching.

However the key feature is that the H0L0F0S LEDs have the same spectral characteristics for the red, green and blue LEDs to the lasers of the Z3RGB camera used to record the OptoClones.

In addition, LED light sources have considerable advantages over halogen and other traditional lighting sources, such as long life, small size, high durability and robustness to thermal and vibration shocks, low energy usage/high energy efficiency, no IR or UV beam output, directional light output, and digital dynamic colour control-white point tuneable.

4. Finishing and display

After the State treasures are recorded as OptoClones, each of the holographic plates is carefully mounted, framed and finished for display. This process was undertaken in St Petersburg at the ITMO University.

The OptoClones were then transported to the Grand Kremlin Palace for their official public display in November 2017, to which the Russian Prime Minister, Dmitry Medvedev, was invited to witness the 11 works of art. Interestingly, the Russian PM did not hesitate to make a public comment on TV in favour of holography as compared to other digital media for virtual visualisation and dissemination of state treasures.

Photographs of these holograms (such as those shown on this page) cannot communicate either the real chromatic impression nor do they convey the analytical detail that only 'live' viewing can offer. OptoClones of this type are useful not only for the virtual exhibition of works of art but--more importantly--for the recording and documentation of their state before/after restoration, before/after temporary loans, for their safe comparative analysis and study, for educational purposes and many other practical museum applications.

With 'feathers in their hat' already from four museums of world-level (Athens & Thessaloniki Byzantine, The Faberge Museum in St Petersburg and now from the Moscow Diamond Fund), HiH is offering its services together with its transportable equipment and unique expertise at very reasonable budget to any of the international readers of Holography News[R] who may see a suitable opportunity in their territory.


Note: OptoClones and HoLoFoS are registered trademarks of HiH. Author of OptoClones for the Gokhran Collection: Andreas Sarakinos (HiH).

Caption: The HiH ZZZyclops camera.

Caption: Recording of an optoctone using the Z3RGB camera.

Caption: The HoLoFoS LED spotlight.

Caption: Andreas Sarakinos of HiH finishing the optoclones.

Caption: A framed OptoClone of a miniature copy of the Kremlin Tsar's Bell in sliver by Sazikov 11852, Gokhran).

Caption: Left to right: the three key people for state values in Russia admiring OptoClones: A Trachuk, Director General, 'Goznak' (banknotes), Minister of Finance A Siluanov and A Jurin, Head of State Treasury 'Gokhran'.

Caption: OptoClones in Moscow Kremlin.

Caption: The Optoclone of the Order of St Catherine (Badge & Cross); Karl Ghana Jewelers (1904); gold, silver, diamonds, enamel.

Caption: The Optoclone of the Rattle-Whistle (Toy); S Larionov, M Belsky (1740); gold, silver, diamonds, rubies, emeralds.

Please Note: Illustration(s) are not available due to copyright restrictions.
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Publication:Holography News
Geographic Code:4EXRU
Date:Feb 1, 2018
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