Lithium Niobate (LiNbO3) is an electro-optic crystalline material consisting of lithium, niobium, and oxygen. LiNbO3 is a member of the family of ferroelectric crystals and is one of the crystals most commonly used in electro-optic modulators.
The earliest photorefractive experiments in holographic data storage were performed in LiNbO3. By 1971, it was discovered that by heating lithium niobate, it was possible to create a hologram from the electronic and ionic charges that resulted.
As a recording medium, lithium niobate emits very low scattered light and is sufficient for recording and replaying a hologram at the highest density.
Some properties of lithium niobate that make it a favorite among the photorefractive materials for holographic data storage include:
- Dark storage time
- Large storage capacity
Lithium niobate is also used to make photorefractive polymers commonly found within holographic data storage mediums such as CDs, DVDs, and Blu-Ray Disks.