Every night, for just a short time after sunset, Amsterdam Central Station becomes Rainbow Station. A four-kilowatt spotlight projects a stunning rainbow through a custom-designed liquid crystal spectral filter onto one of the station’s 45 by 25 meter (148 by 82 feet) roof arches, just above platform 2b. This liquid crystal optics technology is being developed for research on exoplanets, but it will light up Amsterdam Central – and the lives of thousands of travelers – every night for a year.
The work comes courtesy of artist Daan Roosegaarde and NC State University researcher and ImagineOptix Corporation founder Michael Escuti, in celebration of the 125th anniversary of the station’s opening and the start of the UNESCO International Year of Light 2015.
It couldn’t have worked using conventional methods of rainbow projection, such as shining light through a prism or diffraction grating, because these would have resulted in either a washed-out look or a high percentage of light “leaking” into the surrounding environment, the latter being a particular issue because the light could temporarily blind train operators or passengers. Escuti and his team at ImagineOptix instead looked to polarization gratings (patterned parallel vertical lines that polarize and split beams of light) as a starting point to craft something new.
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