Abstract

We report here on the theoretical performance of blazed binary diffractive elements composed of pillars carefully arranged on a two-dimensional grid whose period is smaller than the structural cutoff. These diffractive elements operate under unpolarized light. For a given grating geometry, the structural cutoff is a period value above which the grating no longer behaves like a homogeneous thin film. Because the grid period is smaller than this value, effective-medium theories can be fully exploited for the design, and straightforward procedures are obtained. The theoretical performance of the blazed binary elements is investigated through electromagnetic theories. It is found that these elements substantially outperform standard blazed échelette diffractive elements in the resonance domain. The increase in efficiency is explained by a decrease of the shadowing effect and by an unexpected sampling effect. The theoretical analysis is confirmed by experimental evidence obtained for a 3λ-period prismlike grating operating at 633 nm and for a 20°-off-axis diffractive lens operating at 860 nm.

© 1999 Optical Society of America

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