## Abstract

The effective area method is described to design high-efficiency multiplayer diffractive optical elements (MLDOEs) with finite feature sizes for wide wave band. This method is presented with consideration of the shield effect between two elements of MLDOEs, and the optimal surface relief heights of MLDOEs are calculated with the effective area method. Then the comparisons of diffraction efficiency and polychromatic integral diffraction efficiency for MLDOEs with different period widths are described and simulated with the effective area method and scalar diffraction theory (SDT). Finally, the design results of MLDOEs obtained by SDT and the effective area method are compared by a rigorous electromagnetic analysis method, specifically, the finite-difference time-domain method. These results show that the limits of SDT for MLDOEs, ascertain and quantify the greatest sources of the diffraction efficiency loss due to the shield effect. The design results of the effective area method can obtain higher polychromatic integral diffraction efficiency than that of the SDT when the period width of MLDOEs is taken into account.

© 2016 Optical Society of America

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