Published. 2022, 3(1)
The appearance of the first laser approximately 12 years after the invention of holography by Gabor (1948) revolutionized the field of optical metrology. In fact, the invention of holographic interferometry enabled the exploitation of interferometry on non-mirror surfaces and full-scale objects. The holography-based measurement methods has been implemented to several industrial systems or in support of R&D with the aim of improving new products in many fields (automotive, aerospace, electronics, etc.). To date, holography has been considered an important measurement tool for non-destructive inspection (NDI), strain-stress measurement, and vibration analysis at various engineering sites. Recently, the new paradigm of Industry4.0 has seen the introduction of new technologies and methods of processing materials as well as the development of manufacturing approaches for the realization of innovative products. For example, direct printing, additive, and bottom-up manufacturing processes are expected to involve new ways of making products in future, and most innovative fabrication processes will be based on the manipulation of soft matter (e.g., starting from the liquid phase) that will be shaped at the nanoscale. The inherent characteristics of digital holography (DH) make it a powerful and accurate tool for the visualization and testing of final products, as well as for in situ and real-time monitoring and quantitative characterization of the processes involved during the fabrication cycle. This review aims to report on the most useful applications of soft matter, where the capabilities offered by DH, such as three-dimensional (3D) imaging, extended focus, 3D tracking, full-field analysis, high sensitivity, and a wide range of measurements from nanometers to centimeters, permit completely non-invasive characterizations on a full-scale. Several holographic experimental results of typical samples are reported and discussed where DH plays a primary role as a tool gauge for soft matter.