We present a fast and general iterative design method for both diffractive and nondiffractive two-dimensional optical elements. The method is based on a finite-thickness model in combination with the Yang–Gu phase-retrieval algorithm. A rigorous electromagnetic analysis (boundary element method) is used to appraise the designed results. We calculate the transverse-intensity distributions, diffraction efficiency, and spot size of the designed microlenses at the focusing plane for microlenses designed using the presented method and the conventional zero-thickness model. The main findings show the superiority of the presented method over the conventional method, especially for nondiffractive optical elements.
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