Planar Diffractive Lenses: Fundamentals, Functionalities, and Applications

Kun Huang, Fei Qin, Hong Liu, Huapeng Ye, Cheng-Wei Qiu, Minghui Hong, Boris Luk’yanchuk, Jinghua Teng

Planar Diffractive Lenses: Fundamentals, Functionalities, and Applications


Traditional objective lenses in modern microscopy, based on the refraction of light, are restricted by the Rayleigh diffraction limit. The existing methods to overcome this limit can be categorized into near-field (e.g., scanning near-field optical microscopy, superlens, microsphere lens) and far-field (e.g., stimulated emission depletion microscopy, photoactivated localization microscopy, stochastic optical reconstruction microscopy) approaches. However, they either operate in the challenging near-field mode or there is the need to label samples in biology. Recently, through manipulation of the diffraction of light with binary masks or gradient metasurfaces, some miniaturized and planar lenses have been reported with intriguing functionalities such as ultrahigh numerical aperture, large depth of focus, and subdiffraction-limit focusing in far-field, which provides a viable solution for the label-free superresolution imaging. Here, the recent advances in planar diffractive lenses (PDLs) are reviewed from a united theoretical account on diffraction-based focusing optics, and the underlying physics of nanofocusing via constructive or destructive interference is revealed. Various approaches of realizing PDLs are introduced in terms of their unique performances and interpreted by using optical aberration theory. Furthermore, a detailed tutorial about applying these planar lenses in nanoimaging is provided, followed by an outlook regarding future development toward practical applications.

Language English
Journal Advanced Materials
Article number 1704556
Volume 30
Issue number
Status published


Flat optics; Metasurfaces; Subdiffraction limit; Superresolution imaging; Zone plates

DOI: 10.1002/adma.201704556


  • smart window

    smart window

  • polymer stabilized liquid crys

    polymer stabilized liquid crystal

  • liquid crystal polymer

    liquid crystal polymer

  • liquid crystal optics

    liquid crystal optics

Cite this

  • APA
Kun Huang, Fei Qin, Hong Liu, Huapeng Ye, Cheng-Wei Qiu, Minghui Hong,  Boris Luk’yanchuk, Jinghua Teng. Planar Diffractive lenses: fundamentals, functionalities, and applications. Advanced Materials, 2018, 30(26), 1704556.