The range of validity of the scalar diffraction analysis is quantified for the case of two-dimensionally-periodic diffractive optical elements (crossed gratings). Three canonical classes of two-dimensionally-periodic grating structures are analyzed by using the rigorous coupled-wave analysis as well as the scalar diffraction analysis. In all cases the scalar-analysis diffraction efficiencies are compared with the exact diffraction efficiencies. The error in using the scalar analysis is then determined as a function of the grating-period(s)-to-wavelength ratio(s), the minimum feature size, the grating depth, the refractive index of the grating, the incident polarization, and the number of phase levels. The three classes of two-dimensional (2-D) unit cells are as follows: (1) a rectangular pillar, (2) an elliptical pillar, and (3) an arbitrarily pixellated multilevel 2-D unit cell that is representative of more complicated diffractive optical elements such as computer-generated holograms. In all cases a normally incident electromagnetic plane wave is considered. It is shown that the error of the scalar diffraction analysis in the case of two-dimensionally-periodic diffractive optical elements is greater than that for the corresponding one-dimensionally-periodic counterparts. In addition, the accuracy of the scalar diffraction analysis degrades with increasing refractive index, grating thickness, and asymmetry of the 2-D unit cell and with decreasing grating-period-to-wavelength ratio and feature size.
© 2002 Optical Society of America
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