Optical-coatings problems can be traced to the microstructure inherent in the optical-coating process of thermal evaporation in vacuo. Ion and photon bombardment techniques have been associated in various ways with thin-film deposition. Some processes that incorporate these techniques improve optical-coating performance. Processes relevant to optical-coating construction are surveyed and some recent results are discussed. Ion-assisted deposition and laser evaporation are identified as particularly promising optical coatings.