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J Opt Soc Am A Opt Image Sci Vis. 2008 Aug;25(8):1885-93.

Analysis of the influence of the passive facet of blazed transmission gratings in the intermediate diffraction regime.

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Microstructured Optics, Corporate Research and Technology, Carl Zeiss AG, Jena, Germany.


Blazed diffraction gratings are of enormous practical importance for imaging and analyzing hybrid optical systems. The intermediate diffraction regime is characterized by the transition from the scalar to the rigorous electromagnetic theory. An effect known as shadowing occurs and reduces the diffraction efficiency. Based on rigorous calculations for optimized sawtooth-shaped and binary-multilevel blaze profiles, we deduce a semianalytical model describing the shadowing phenomenon for the general case of oblique incidence. We discuss illumination both from air and from the substrate. Though a multilevel blaze possesses a discrete substructure, our shadowing model remains valid, if substructural effects are neglected. We find that electromagnetic effects due to the passive blaze facet lead to the efficiency reduction, and the blazing efficiency shows a linear dependence on the ratio of blaze wavelength to grating period. Our shadowing model is applied to predict the performance of a Littrow-like blazing condition in transmission geometry as, e.g., for a diffractive solid immersion lens.

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