The fabrication of continuous-relief diffractive optical elements by direct laser beam writing in photoresist is analyzed. The main limitation and tolerances are identified, and their influence on optical performance is quantified. Fabricated structures show rounded profile steps resulting from the convolution of the desired profile with the writing beam. This leads to a reduction in diffraction efficiency. Optimization techniques are presented to minimize this effect. Scaling the profile depth by a factor of μ > 1 increases the first-order diffraction efficiency for blazed elements. This method is also applied to suppress the zeroth diffraction order in computer-generated holograms. A nonlinear compensation of the exposure data for the Gaussian beam convolution results in an 18% increase of the diffraction efficiency for a blazed grating with a 10-μm period to a value of 79%.
© 1998 Optical Society of AmericaPDF Article