Optical components designing, prototyping and mass production involve high technology-based solutions. These products are primarily used for space applications, biotech, consumer products packaging to name some. These companies also specialize in research projects in academic institutions in developing nanotechnology solutions.
There are various types of products that these companies create and introduce in the market and one such product is diffractive optics or diffractive optical elements or optical components that are made of subwavelength structures with complex setups and arrangements. Depending on application types, the Diffractive Optical Elements or DOEs can manipulate an incident light’s amplitude with the intention of producing the expected output with specialized functionality.
Diffractive optics follows the diffractive grating principles having a repetitive style in two or more levels formed on the substrate surface. These are typically etched on the hard substrate substance or that’s replicated on a polymer surface. The pattern depth is mostly in order of the wavelength of light that’s specific to the application as per adjustment to the refractive index of the material.
Currently, with high accuracy of advanced micro or nanolithography fabrication techniques, it is possible to design or engineer diffractive optics featuring sizes from a few hundred nanometers to few millimeters, thereby keeping things much thinner and lighter for optical components and producing greater resolution as compared to the refractive counterparts. Presently revolutionizing optical instrumentation tends to replace refractive optical components with the DOE equivalents. This also helps to maintain higher standards of efficiency and cost-effectiveness including compactness and multi-functionality. These things are crucial in terms of integrated optics.
What are the advantages of diffractive optical elements and applications?
- They enhance the value of laser systems
- Useful for various applications like LiDAR and LADAR including position sensors and motion detectors.
- Also useful for beam shaping, beam splitting, pattern generating, diffractive lenses, and grating.
These help to obtain a spectrum of optical functions, specifically for applications that involve lasers. The diffractive optical elements are also known as multifocal diffractive lens that lets a single beam of light to be passed at simultaneously different positions by the propagation axis. The multifocal spots location is functional to refractive focal length and predetermined diffractive focal length.
Hence, aiding the design of optical systems, diffractive optics reduces the number of elements in a conventional lens system and eliminates the need for costly materials for chromatic aberration corrections.