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Proceedings Paper

From ink bottles to e-beams: a historical perspective on diffractive optic technology
Author(s): Joseph Neil Mait
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Paper Abstract

The history of diffractive optic technology is traced from the first hand-drawn computer-generated holograms created by Adolf Lohmann and Byron Brown to elements fabricated using electron beams that are smaller than a human hair. The influence of Adolf Lohmann on the field is recounted, as are the major developments in fabrication and computation. In particular we highlight the influence of technology on design techniques showing how the availability of computer plotters in the 1960s lead to early encoding techniques. The transition in the 1970s to photolithographic fabrication changed the nature of diffractive design from cell-oriented to point-oriented encoding. At the same time optimization routines were developed that incorporated these new fabrication constraints. The introduction of electron beam writing in the fabrication of diffractive optics in the 1980s brought diffractive design in the 1990s full circle to techniques that are again cell-oriented. Shrinking-features have also changed the applications for diffractive elements. First used primarily as filters for optical correlators, diffractive elements will play a critical role in telecommunications systems that are nearing deployment. However, the most visible impact of Adolf Lohmann's contributions are pattern generators sold with laser pointers. This history is dedicated to Adolf Lohmann on the occassion of his seventy-fifth birthday.

Paper Details

Date Published: 6 July 2001
PDF: 12 pages
Proc. SPIE 4392, Optical Processing and Computing: A Tribute to Adolf Lohmann, (6 July 2001); doi: 10.1117/12.432791
Show Author Affiliations
Joseph Neil Mait, Army Research Lab. (United States)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 4392:
Optical Processing and Computing: A Tribute to Adolf Lohmann
David P. Casasent; H. John Caulfield; William J. Dallas; Harold H. Szu, Editor(s)

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