Photonic Technologies: Holography


Presented by the Institute of Photonic Technologies  (LPT)

What is this challenge about?

Optical elements like lenses manipulate the wave front of an incident light beam. In the case of a lens the resulting effect is the formation of a focal spot. If the wave front of a light beam is altered in the right way almost arbitrary intensity distributions can be attained. This is what can be achieved by a phase-only hologram. One application of this technology is the creation of security characteristics, for example to improve the counterfeit protection of banknotes.

Interested? Get the full story below!



The Case

In 2033 a new global currency called WorldCoin will be introduced. It will be protected against counterfeiting by transmissive phase-only holograms incorporated into every individual banknote. The hologram also contains the specific monetary value of the banknote. In this challenge you will take the role of a counterfeiter trying to analyze these holograms in order to generate your own money.


Your Task

In the FAU Open Research Challenge Holography, a phase-only hologram taken from one of these banknotes will be provided.

Your goal is to decrypt the provided holograms to find out about the protection. Feel free to use programs like matlab or your own code for the calculations needed.

The challenge consists of multiple steps. After successful completion of each step, you will have to document your progress. In the end you will have to generate your own holograms in order to produce bank notes with your desired value.

  • Step 1 is the decryption of a conventional hologram which can be downloaded in the "material" section below.
  • After solving this challenge, the world bank is forced to improve the WorldCoin protection which needs to be decrypted in step 2. Please be aware that the protection of the bank note now consists of two holograms as shown in the image below. The two holograms are also available in the "material" section.

  • After solving this challenge the counterfeiter is able to print whatever hologram he wants. Therefore, in step 3 you are free to decrypte a WorldCoin value of your choice (e.g. 10000 or 999899) into a hologram. The solution with the most efficient algorithm, shortest calculation time and best result wins.

The winner will be chosen based on how many of the puzzles related to the story can be solved, how accurate the provided results are and how well the algorithms used were thought out.



The holograms for step one and two can be found here. Good luck!

Step 1:

MD5: 2DD96E5DEFE95FD5A812876F541CA0F9
SHA1: 0440A357D0D8CF3BA7D5E71EED224F0B19A38B45


Step 2 (two holograms):

MD5: 14381FA51AE71CD788E324E359574704
SHA1: CD577438E4594966D3E74621A1805C0321ACC84D

MD5: FCA17A4E8B90423A4A4311ABF9276CAE
SHA1: B8B0E58D346BE31486F64360BFFD13772994FE38


Join the discussion or look for a team or team members >>HERE<< !



This challenge is a multi-stage competition! Until the end of the Open Research Challenge on NEW: August 9th, all three steps have to be completed by the teams. The information on all three steps is provided above.

For the final submission, the teams are requested to upload their results as well as a description and the code used for the completion of all three individual tasks. The final rating will be based on the review of the submitted solutions to all three steps.

To join the challenge, also see the general rules for the FAU Open Research Challenge. Detailed information on the submission process for this challenge will be posted in time.


References and Reading Material

For a quick start:

Meltaus, J., Salo, J., Noponen, E., Salomaa, M.M., Viikari, V., Lonnqvist, A., Koskinen, T., Saily, J., Hakli, J., Ala-Laurinaho, J., Mallat, J., Raisanen, A.V., 2003. Millimeter-wave beam shaping using holograms. IEEE Trans. Microwave Theory Techn. 51 (4), 1274–1280.

Dresel, T., Beyerlein, M., Schwider, J., 1996. Design and fabrication of computer-generated beam-shaping holograms. Applied optics 35 (23), 4615–4621.

Mihaylova, E., 2013. Holography - Basic Principles and Contemporary Applications. InTech.


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