This is a remarkably simple way of making a holographic recording material. This is the way
that we make a lot of holograms in our lab, and we find it to be by far the easiest method for making holographic plates.
In essence, we treat a glass surface to make it chemically 'sticky', we coat that with gelatin,
and harden the gelatin with chromium or formaldehyde. Once we have the gelatin film we then soak into it a silver salt, and
subsequently soak in potassium or lithium bromide to precipitate an ultra-fine grain precipitate of silver bromide. The bromide
solution also incorporates a dye to make the plate photo-sensitive in the required wavelength range, and with addition of
a little sensitiser we can produce by this method a holographic plate of quite high standard.
A worksheet (dated Nov 2000) is given below. It gives results which have good diffraction
efficiency and photosensitivity compared to ultrafine grain proprietary material. But this is for the fun of doing it all
yourself and getting bright results. If you are particularly concerned about marks
from bubbles, dust and blemishes then you may prefer to use the proprietary material.
The material on this page is based on the following article, with some changes that we have made to our
protocols since publication, and any differences between the original article and the text below are solely due to those differences.
A simple way to make silver halide hologram
recording plates by Diffusion
By Jeff Blyth, Institute of Biotechnology , University of Cambridge
Tennis court rd. Cambridge CB2 1QT
Tel : 01223 334152 ( fax: 334162 ) email : email@example.com
is in the form of a worksheet based on the paper published in :
The Imaging Science Journal
Vol 47 pp 87- 91 1999
A text only version of the paper can be found on the internet
on the websites:-
The Basic principle
A coating of pure gelatin on a glass plate is treated with silver nitrate. The coating is then immersed in a bath of bromide ion and dye. This then precipitates extremely fine grains of silver bromide in the gelatin layer.
glass plates . (You can use old holographic plates with the gelatin removed with
the aid of household bleach.)
of bloom strength between 250 and
300 (eg. 300bloom from Aldrich cat no. 27,162-4) , (You can use culinary gelatin without any sugar or flavourings.)
acid or Vitamin C,
, (A 1N volumetric standard solution
is a useful form)
acetate , (you can use chrome alum instead)
7. dye(s): Pinacyanol Chloride (for HeNe 633nm exposure) or 1,1 -diethyl -2,2
cyanine iodide for exposure at 532nm
new glass plates) 3-amino-propyltriethoxysilane
Concentration of Solutions
(quantities will need to be judged by you to suit your requirements)
nitrate : 6% w/v in (DI) water ,
(or the 1N volumetric standard solution diluted by 1volume to 2 volumes DI water.)
solns : for 633nm 1g. /1000 ml Methanol,
but for 532 nm dye, 1g. per 500 ml methanol .
you would probably only need a hundreth of a gram to make up a few ml of these somewhat expensive dyes.)
bromide 4% w/v in 3/2 methanol /water (3% lithium bromide gives a finer grained
hologram than the equivalent concentration of potassium bromide, however 4% potassium bromide works well).
acetate solution 1% or Chrome Alum
solution. 15%: (see 2 paragraphs
acid 1% solution in water , adjusted to around pH
5 with any alkali.
Preparation of plates
Glass plates usually need a pre-treatment step or the gelatin coating will peal off. You
can use old holographic plates by simply giving them a 10 min. soak in neat domestic bleach solution and then rub off the old gelatin layer under tap water. After a final rinse in distilled water, no further subbing step may be required.
However with new glass plates, I leave them soaking overnight in a 100% bleach (Domestos or Parazone). After the plates are dry I rub them
over with a 1% solution of 3-amino-propyltriethoxysilane in acetone on a tissue until it has evaporated, and leave them in air to interact with the silane for at least two hours before coating. (The silane solution has to be freshly prepared
for each batch of plates).
Preparation of coating solution for
a 10 x 8 plate
Add 30g gelatin to 170ml cold distilled water
and mark the liquid level on the beaker.
Place beaker in a water bath and heat while stirring constantly until
gelatin solution is between 60 and 70o C.
all granules have cleared. Top up level to the mark . To remove skin and surface
foam, pour through a fine mesh (nylon stocking works fine) into a preheated beaker.
Then immediately proceed to next step:
Coating (by the old Victorian curtain method)
beaker in your right hand and with you left incline the presubbed glass plate
(preheated to around 70oC) at
an angle of about 30o to
the vertical with its bottom edge in a clean tray. Pour the gelatin in a line about 1 cm from the top of the plate. The pouring
rate must be continuous until the furthest edge of the plate is reached . (You may
have to accept the tendency of the coating to not completely cover the lower part closest to the furthest edge. ) Lean plate against something for a few minutes while coating gels. Run a knife
along thick layer at the bottom to free plate rather than risk tearing the delicate
coating. (Since no hardener is involved yet the gel can be readily scooped up and
recoated if you are not satisfied.). Put plate in cold solution of chromium acetate for 1 minute. Shake off drips and then (without washing away that salt ) blow plate
with cold air until dry. Once the layer is dry leave the plate to complete the chrome hardening effect overnight in a warmer.
(Preferably at around 60oC for several hours). Rinse the hardened plate in DI water and dry in a warm air flow.
If you want to cut plate up for the next step then after scoring the glass on the back and cracking it, it is best
not to pull sections apart before running a scalpel blade along the gelatin side
first so that it is cut and not torn apart..
Alternatively a Meyer bar can be used. About 7 turns per cm.
1. For a 5 x 4 plate place approx 3 ml 6% silver nitrate soln. in the centre and at once squash it with a clean flat cover
plate (preferably transparent plastic so that you can see the air bubbles are
squeezed out). Leave for 3 minutes. Safelighting
is not strictly necessary here but white lighting should be subdued.
2. Remove cover plate and immediately remove the excess silver solution on its surface
by gently brushing over the plate with a soft squeegee (windscreen wiper blade).
dry plate with cool air. Once dried, the plates can be stored for a short while
in a cool, dry, dark location until needed.
4. Under safelight conditions , add 2.5 ml of dye solution per 100ml of potassium bromide solution , add about 0.5 ml of
1% ascorbic acid solution (this is the same solution as is used in the final
sensitizing bath ) agitate the bath and plunge plate in while maintaining the agitation for about 2 minutes (although
with softer gelatin this could be reduced to 60 seconds, otherwise unacceptable grain growth can occur. Expect to spend a
little time optimising this step for your own application). This solution can
be re-used a number of times, until such a point as the dye starts to come out of solution or the brightness of the resultant
holograms seems to be diminished; the dye used for 532nm exposures (see above) is far more re-useable.
well under running tap water (any AgBr
only on the surface can be removed by gently rubbing with ungloved finger.) Plates
usually come out this bath beautifully
clear under the green safe light, without any surface deposit.
7) Sensitizing bath step
can be immersed for 1 minute in 1% ascorbic acid solution adjusted to pH 5 using a little sodium carbonate or hydroxide
. Alternatively the well known triethanolamine pre-swelling technique can be used
with the advantage of increased brightness at a shorter wavelength. (prolonged settling period may then be necessary however to avoid creep while the exposure is being made).
exposure the plate is then developed as per the first part above.