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J Opt Soc Am A Opt Image Sci Vis. 2002 Apr;19(4):702-15.

Two-dimensionally-periodic diffractive optical elements: limitations of scalar analysis.

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  • 1School of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Microelectronics Research Center, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta 30332, USA.


The range of validity of the scalar diffraction analysis is quantified for the case of two-dimensionally-periodic diffractive optical elements (crossed gratings). Three canonical classes of two-dimensionally-periodic grating structures are analyzed by using the rigorous coupled-wave analysis as well as the scalar diffraction analysis. In all cases the scalar-analysis diffraction efficiencies are compared with the exact diffraction efficiencies. The error in using the scalar analysis is then determined as a function of the grating-period(s)-to-wavelength ratio(s), the minimum feature size, the grating depth, the refractive index of the grating, the incident polarization, and the number of phase levels. The three classes of two-dimensional (2-D) unit cells are as follows: (1) a rectangular pillar, (2) an elliptical pillar, and (3) an arbitrarily pixellated multilevel 2-D unit cell that is representative of more complicated diffractive optical elements such as computer-generated holograms. In all cases a normally incident electromagnetic plane wave is considered. It is shown that the error of the scalar diffraction analysis in the case of two-dimensionally-periodic diffractive optical elements is greater than that for the corresponding one-dimensionally-periodic counterparts. In addition, the accuracy of the scalar diffraction analysis degrades with increasing refractive index, grating thickness, and asymmetry of the 2-D unit cell and with decreasing grating-period-to-wavelength ratio and feature size.

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