Structured optical elements that control the spatial and temporal characteristics of femtosecond light pulses are analyzed and synthesized. We show that unique spatiotemporal effects can be attained based on the diffraction, refraction, and dispersive effects that appear in the femtosecond regime. We argue that the design requirements for ultrafast optics are beyond the achromatization considerations that are usually applied to incoherent illumination because of the need to consider coherent effects. Despite fundamental limitations in the space–time control of ultrashort pulses, we show the potential of this technique to improve simultaneously the spatial and the temporal resolution of a lens and to generate ultrafast pulse sequences.
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