The refractive index of a material is a dimensionless number that describes how fast light travels through the material. In situations where a transparent hologram is required, for instance as a laminate to cover the variable data of a passport or other ID document, instead of coating the holographic image with a metallic film, a transparent coating is made using a material with a high refractive index. The HRI materials used in this process are typically oxides (eg. titanium dioxide) or sulphides (eg. zinc sulphide). In this way, the light diffracted by the hologram can be seen, as can the variable data underneath.