A diffractive zone plate provides a highly linear wavelength-to-depth coding, allowing for nonmechanical depth scanning in a confocal microscope. This chromatic confocal microscope, constructed with 40× and 60× objectives, achieves axial position changes of 55 and 25 µm, respectively, for a wavelength tuning range of 100 nm. The corresponding longitudinal point-spread functions are measured and shown to possess full-width half-maximums of 2.52 and 2.23 µm, respectively. Two-dimensional profiles of a two-phase-level grating and a four-phase-level diffractive structure are given. The performance of the chromatic confocal microscope is consistent with that of the conventional confocal operation of the microscope.
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