Abstract

It is shown that the failure of the thin-element approximation of diffractive optics may, in the first approximation, be attributed to local diffraction effects caused by the abrupt vertical transitions in binary surface-relief profiles. We determine the field disturbance caused by a single-step transition (of given height) by rigorous diffraction theory. Associating such a disturbance with each individual transition point in the profile, we obtain a computationally efficient refinement of the thin-element approximation for the analysis and design of diffractive elements in the nonparaxial domain. The results agree well with those obtained by global application of rigorous diffraction theory, provided that the smallest features in the binary profile are larger than approximately one optical wavelength.

© 2001 Optical Society of America

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