High-efficiency diffractive optical elements

Redesign of optical systems thanks to innovative, micro-optical structures

Diffractive optical elements (DOE) diffract light at the microstructured surface. Thanks to their high level of functionality, several optical functions can be integrated simultaneously in a single element. DOEs thus enable very compact, lightweight and elegant practical solutions, which with purely refractive macro optics, are only possible at a very high cost.

High efficiency

Low zero order

Low roughness

DOE components and functionalities

Diffractive optical elements (DOEs) are optical components that deflect light into multiple orders at precise angles. Periodicity and their spatial frequencies, rather than the surface topography profile, determine the optical performance.

  • Single-sided & double-sided wafer patterning
  • Diffractive & refractive optical design & simulation
  • Wave optical propagation
  • High-efficiency optical elements
  • Optical elements with low roughness
  • Precision manufacturing in high volumes
  • Precision measurement technology
  • Dicing
  • Structuring various optical materials: SiO2, CaF2, silicone, glass with high refractive index, etc.

Binary/multilevel DOE

The simplest DOE profile is binary: two profile planes produce the required phase shift of the light. Multi-stage profiles with a single grating period allow for more precise phase control.

Diffractive lenses

The use of a diffractive lens as a flat optical element can be beneficial in order to limit the volume of a conventional optical system and correct chromatic aberration.


Generation of arbitrary far-field profiles with a well-defined angular distribution for partial incoherent light. Corresponding diffractive diffusers are used in laser lighting applications, among others.


Our gratings have various application possibilities. They are used for spatial splitting of spectral light components or find application as imaging, beam shaping & beam splitting components.

Diffraction gratings

Synchrotron and X-ray grating

and various other application possibilities

High efficiency

The efficiency of a diffractive optical element is enhanced in micro-optics by two factors:

  • The individual optics design, which takes into account the optical input conditions and simulates the optical wave propagation through the whole optical system. 
  • And the continuous surface profile, which is generated by gray-tone lithography with arbitrary step profiles.
Standard DOE
Standard DOE

Low zero order

The zero order of a diffractive optical element is reduced at ZEISS by three factors:

  1. An optimized optics design adapted to the manufacturing tolerances.
  2. A precise measurement technology that enables the exact determination of the target selectivity (aspect ratio between the structure in the photoresist and the etched structure).
  3. And a high-precision etching technology that implements the very high requirements for the target selectivity.

Low roughness

The roughness of a diffractive optical element is reduced by optimizing the entire manufacturing process.

The combination of writing process, development process and etching process at ZEISS delivers precise results with very low roughness. These low-scatter, diffractive, optical elements with sub-nanometer output roughness are targeted and beneficial in certain applications.

Standard DOE


From regular periodic micro-lens arrays to randomized continuous phase profiles¹

From regular periodic micro-lens arrays to randomized continuous phase profiles¹
pages: 15
file size: 7920 kB

General specifications

Features Parameters

Operating wavelength

10 nm < λ < 2 μm, EUV to NIR


  • Master: Photoresist, quartz glass, glass, Si, CaF₂
  • Replica: Glass, glass ceramic, plastic and metal

Substrate surface

Flat & curved including freeform

Substrate dimensions

0.5 mm to 300 mm

Substrate thickness

1 mm to 50 mm


Metallic & dielectric


One- and two-sided structuring

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Transparent high-performance systems from ZEISS


¹ From regular periodic micro-lens arrays to randomized continuous phase profiles, Advanced Optical Technologies, Band 4, Heft 1, Seiten 47–61, eISSN 2192-8584, ISSN 2192-8576, DOI: