Diffractive optical element

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, silicon, high refractive index glass etc.

DOE components

  • Multilevel DOE

    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 lens

    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.

  • Diffuser


    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.

  • Optical gratings


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

    Detailed information on:
    Diffraction grating
    Synchrotron and X-ray grating

Representation of the efficiency of an DOE
Representation of the efficiency of an DOE

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.

Caption:  Standard DOE (left) ZEISS DOE (right)

Representation of the zeroth order of an DOE
Representation of the zeroth order of an 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.

Caption:  Standard DOE (left) ZEISS DOE (right)

Representation of the roughness of an DOE
Representation of the roughness of an DOE

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 roughness baseline are beneficial in certain applications.

Caption:  Standard DOE (left) ZEISS DOE (right)

General specifications



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


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

      From regular periodic micro-lens arrays to randomized continuous phase profiles.

      File size: 7 MB
    • Microoptics for high-end optical systems

      Microstructured optics for high end optical systems.

      File size: 48 KB
    • ZEISS OEM Solutions Broschüre

      Pages: 24
      File size: 1 MB

Get in touch with us

Contact us

You can get in touch with your questions here.

Form is loading...

Your inquiry
Optional information

If you want to have more information on data processing at ZEISS, please refer to our data privacy notice

  • 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: https://doi.org/10.1515/aot-2014-0062