The King of Dichromates

I had heard of Rich Rallison when I first got into holography in the late ‘70’s thanks to his production of holographic dichromated gelatin pendants, and got to meet him at the First International Symposium on Display Holography at Lake Forest College in 1982, where he blew everyone away by recording a hologram of that type on stage!  And let people try it themselves!

He became a regular at the summer Holography Workshops, even flying there from Utah in an ultra-light aircraft one year, and then flying on to the East Coast!  Here he is with Steve (Laser)Smith on the left, at the 1985 ISDH.  (Photo courtesy of Hans Bjelkhagen.)

Typical ISDH day

Here he is teaching a workshop cooking the Jello, not sure of the year, but the photo credit goes to Carlos Vertanessian.

Rich Close UP

Panorama of above

He would leave a box full of his stuff for the next time he taught a workshop at the college so he wouldn’t have to transport all of it.  When excavating the Lake Forest Holography Lab in 2008, I found it, and it could even date from the photo above.  The contents of the box certainly show the ingenuity of the man; a kitchen chafing dish to heat his alcohols, plus a little contact lens sterilizer to cook his jelly!  The bottle in the plastic wrap has a 10% solution of dichromate, there is a variety of concentrations of store bought IPA, and a bag (not liquid concentrate) of Kodak Fixer.

He tells his life story in a paper entitled “Dichromates Come From Jello”, published in Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 3956: Practical Holography XIV and Holographic Materials VI, (Sylvia H. Stevenson; T. John Trout, Editors), downloadable from SPIE for $18, or you can click here to get it for free from Wasatch Photonics, started and still running by one of Rich’s earliest employees, Jerry Heidt.  There is an archive of Rich’s papers there, also.

Some of the inventions he didn’t mention in the paper above was to use the water cooling his Argon laser to heat his swimming pool!  And putting an HOE that he had made for the military in his car windshield to watch movies while driving very close behind a truck to and from Lake Forest.

Members pages at the Optical Society of America,Society for Photo-Instrumentation Engineers, and He is also one of the cast of characters in Mark Diamond's Holoroids. And his obituary.

How to Make a Dichromate Hologram” flyer from International Dichromate Corporation of 1979 vintage.

Holographic Optical Element Sampler kit, RK-8

A very thorough overview of holographic recording materials, written in his own voice of his own experieinces. (If that doesn't work, try here.)

Rallison Face Book