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6 Basic Tips for Using Diffractive Optical Elements

Diffractive optical elements are an amazing way to manipulate light. They can be used in various ways, but this blog post will focus on how they can be used for 3D imaging and displays. We’ll discuss tips for using them effectively.

  1. Use properly designed diffractive optical elements

Diffractive optics are an amazing way to control light, but only certain designs will work. So, you need to focus on what happens when you use a lens with specific design parameters that are either too high or too low for the application.

  1. Material choice

The material of the D.O.E. will determine its design parameters and how it works best in a given application, just like any lens would be designed for a specific range of wavelengths (visible spectrum). Generally speaking, thicker elements work better than thinner ones because higher-order diffraction can occur when more thickness interacts with light waves. The diffractive optics can be made from a variety of materials, typically glass or plastic.

  1. Three-dimensional images

Two-dimensional images can be created with a D.O.E., but creating three-dimensional images is where diffractive optical elements shine! To create depth, an array of lenses must be used to focus light at different distances from the viewer’s eyes and develop a sense of depth.

  1. Displays

The same idea as creating three-dimensional images can be used for displays. The only difference is that instead of focusing light from different distances, a D.O.E. will create a magnified image by spreading the focused light out over a surface area much larger than what it would normally reach with a lens alone (called “magnification”). This technique has been used to make heads-up displays in fighter jets and other applications where data needs to be displayed without getting in the way of the user’s view or comfort level.

  1. Take advantage of the thin profile

Another tip is to take advantage of how thin diffractive optics can be compared with lenses. Using a D.O.E., one could create an array of beamsplitters that all together are thinner than any single-lens design, so they can fit into tight spaces or distribute light over larger areas more uniformly at smaller angles (lenses have thicker edges and therefore cause vignetting).

  1. Keep an eye on the designer

Be sure to keep an eye out for diffractive optical elements designed.


Many amazing things can be done with diffractive optical elements as the diffractive optical elements are used to focus light, control the direction of light beams and provide spectral filtering.

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