The proliferation of diffractive optics technologies into military and consumer markets has been driven by advancements in modeling, fabrication, and performance characterization of diffractive optical elements.
Diffractive optics offers additional degrees of freedom for controlling the propagation, dispersion, and polarization of light in photonic instruments. It provides instrumentation developers and optical designers with additional flexibility in systems' architectures, resulting in solutions with reduced overall size and weight, as well as enhanced performance characteristics. The benefits of diffractive optics are becoming especially important in spectral regions where high optical quality materials are sparse or not available. That applies especially to the long-wave infrared and THz spectral regions, where diffractive optical elements perform exceptionally well.
This paper presents examples of optical systems employing diffractive optical elements, emphasizing unique benefits enabled by the use of diffractive optics in modern photonic instruments. It also outlines certain areas of further diffractive optics developments that are expected to provide significant system-level performance benefits.