Contact information:


+33 2 29 00 12 05

Office information

Optics Department Secretariat
Jennifer Romer
+33 2 2900 1032


Technopôle Brest-Iroise
CS 83818
29238 Brest cedex 03

Kevin Heggarty is Professor in the Optics Department of the IMT Atlantique, a French “Grande Ecole” (graduate engineering school). His research interests include non-display applications of spatial light modulators and especially the design and fabrication of diffractive micro-optical elements and their applications in photonics, optical information processing and optical telecommunications. He has published over 70 papers and patents in international reviews and conferences, ran or participated in several European projects, numerous industrial and French national (ANR) projects and is a founder of the spin-off company Holotetrics.

He has teaches optics/photonics/electro-magnetism at all levels at the IMT Atlantique and lectures in Masters courses in France, Spain, Germany and Belgium, He received his B.A. in Natural Sciences from the University of Cambridge (UK) in 1987, an M.Sc. in Telecommunications and Information Systems from the university of Essex (UK) in 1988, his doctorate from the Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Télécommunications (E.N.S.T.) in Paris (FRANCE) in 1991 and his Habilitation à Diriger des Recherches (HDR) in 2010.

Diffractive Optical Elements

Kevin Heggarty's main expertise concerns the design, fabrication and applications of Diffractive Optical Elements or DOEs (devices often also known under other names such as Computer Generated Holograms, Synthetic Holograms ...).

DOEs are optical components containing nano- or micro-structures which diffract an incident light field into a desired light field pattern - frequently a patterned or etched layer on a glass or plastic substrate.

DOE Operation schematic
DOE Photo

Photograph of 20 DOEs etched into a glass substrate

DOE Illumination

DOE plate illuminated by a laser beam and the diffracted output spot array


DOE Applications

DOEs are used in a very wide variety of applications - potentially wherever it is necessary to manipulate light wavefronts. Common examples include:

  • Pattern generators for barcode scanners (seen at supermarket checkouts)
  • Security holograms (seen on passports and banknotes)
  • Laser beam shaping for laser machining, cutting, welding
  • Smartphones for uniform backlights and structured illumination for 3D facial recognition
DOE Patterns

DOE output patterns


DOE barcode scanner


DOE on banknote DOE  structured illumination



DOE modelling and design

DOEs design uses mathematical and digital models of the diffraction process (both scalar and vector EM models are used), generally combined with optimisation algorithms to maximise pattern fidelity and diffraction efficiency while taking into account the practical limitations of the DOE fabrication process. The diffractive optics group of the IMT Atlantique Optics department has continually developed and published numerous DOE design algorithms over the last 20 years and has access to all the main current DOE design algorithms (IFTA, DBS, Error Diffusion, Genetic, FDTD, Fourier Modal ...) through both in-house and commercial software suites.

DOE non-paraxial

Distortion correction in non-paraxial scalar diffraction model


FDTD modelling of high resolution DOEs


Fourier Modal Method simulation in VirtualLab Fusion


DOE fabrication

DOEs are usually fabricated using photolithographic processes, both classical mask-based photolithography and laser/e-beam direct write techniques. A major specificity and stront point of the IMT Atlantique diffractive optics group has been the development through a series of European and French national projects (DRAWMAP, LASSAR, PHENOMENON) of a series of Liquid Crystal Display based massively parallel direct-write photoplotters specifically optimised for the rapid fabrication of DOEs. Current performance of the Optics department photoplotter :

  • Address grid : 750nm
  • Minimum feature size : 1µm
  • Maximum plot area : 15x15cm
  • Typical plot rates : ~1cm²/min
  • Binary and continuous (255) phase levels


Parallel-write Photoplotter

Schematic of the massively parallel photoplotter

Photo Photoplotter 1PP

Photograph of the direct parallel-write photoplotter

Photo 2PP photoplotter

Prototype parallel-write multi-photon photoplotter

European Projects

  • PHENOMENON: (H2020 2018-2021, workpackage leader)
  • BONE: Building the Future Optical Network in Europe (Network of Excellence 2008-11, Teaching Workpackage leader)
  • EPHOTONONE: Optical Networks : Towards Bandwidth Managebility and Cost Efficiency (Network of Excellence 2004-8)
  • NEWTON : Enabling Technologies for 3D Nano Photonics: New Materials and Process Technology for Real 3D Integrated Optical Circuits, Photonic Band Gap Devices and Photonic Crystals (STREP 2006-8, Workpackage leader)
  • LASSAR : Large Area Sub-wavelength Surface Analysis and Reconstruction (CRAFT 2001-4, Workpackage leader)
  • DRAWMAP : Direct Parallel-Write Multi-Application photoplotter (CRAFT 1999-2001, Project proposer and leader)
  • HICOPOS : Highly Integrated and Compact Optical Processor for On-Board Systems (ESPRIT 1992-5)


National French Projects

  • NEW3DPrint : New 3D printing based in ultrasensitive non-linear photosensitive resin (ANR project with ENS Lyon, 2018-22)

  • ADCPoly: All Optical ADC (ANR project with Nantes University, IEUM Lille and Thales, 2018-21)

  • LIVEFACE : LIVEness detection and FACE recognition system for mobile devices (ANR project with Morpho-Safran, 2016-19)

  • DOCSCOPE (ANR project with Hologram Industries, Université Caen and Exo Makina, 2012-15)

  • NANOLAM (OSEO-ISI project with Hologram Industries and Horiba Jobin Yvon, 2012-16)

  • OSEO-HOLOTETRIX (Réplication par nano-embossage d'éléments optiques diffractifs)


Direct Industrial Projects

Over the last 15 years a very wide range of direct industrial research projects and contracts centred mainly on the design, fabrication and applications of Diffractive Optical Elements (DOEs) and Spatial Light Modulators (SLMs) and optical systems using these components. Companies we have worked with include Hologram Industries (now Surys), Morpho-Safran, Valeo, Miva Technologies, ONERA, Nikon, CAIlabs, Thales, Synchrotron, PSA, Blaze, Oberthur, HDTS ...


Regional Breton Projects

  • PRINT : « Phototraceur Rapide pour l'optique diffractive et INTégrée » (PRIR 2006-9, project leader

  • HOLOLAZ « Développement de micro-optiques permettant la mise en forme de faisceau laser » (2008-10, Laseo and UBS)


PhDs Supervised

  • Thomas Barbottin, "Etude, prototypage et démonstration des apports de l’optique diffractive dans des applications automobiles: éclairage/signalisation structuré, affichage holographique, mise en forme de faisceau LED et laser" (CIFRE), start 2020

  • Soukaina Chakir, "Design, prototyping and characterisation of compact, high view angla, 3D, Head Up Displays (HUD) for automotive applications" (CIFRE), start 2018

  • Luis Perez Covarrubias, "Optimisation du processus photochimique d'écriture massivement parallèle et des performances d'une nano-imprimante 3D ultra-rapide", start 2018

  • Qiang Song : "Design of synthetic diffractive structures for 3D visualization applications and their fabrication by a novel parallel-write two-photon polymerization process", defense 10th September 2020

  • Yoran-Eli Pigeon : "Phototraçage massivement parallèle, multirésolution et multiprofondeur de microstructures et nanostructres diffractantes pour les applications antifraudes" (CIFRE), defense 4th October 2019

  • Julien Le Meur : "Conception, assemblage, optimisation et test de modules intégrés d'illumination structurée à base d'éléments optiques diffractifs : application particulière à la reconnaissance faciale", defense 19th December 2018

  • Khalil Chikha : "Modélisation, conception, fabrication et reproduction à grande échelle d'éléments optiques diffractants profonds pour les applications anti-fraude" (CIFRE), defense 19th December 2016

  • Giang Nam Nguyen, "Modeling, design and fabrication of diffractive optical elements based on nanostructures operating beyond the scalar paraxial domain", defense 9th December 2014

  • Aurélie Chang Yong : "Développement et mise au point des procédés et matériaux de recopie par nano-embossage de structures optiques diffractives", defense 18th January 2013.

  • Charbel Nassour : "Développement et application d'un photo-traceur massivement parallèle pour l'écriture directe de structures sub-microniques", defense 5th March 2012.
  • Nolwenn Dissaux : "Photo-inscription et caractérisation de nanostructures diffractants de type cristaux photoniques", defense 26th September 2011.
  • Emilie Bialic : "Conception, fabrication par phototraçage parallèle et duplication d’éléments diffractifs", defense 10th January 2011.
  • Jerôme Ninot : "Reconnaissance et analyse automatique, temps réel de signalisation routières optiques" (CIFRE), defense 11th May 2010
  • Melanie Kessels : "Conception, modélisation, développement et application d'un phototraceur massivement parallèle pour l'écriture directe de structures submicroniques", defense 14th Avril 2008
  • Alexandre Mazine : "La caractérisation de front d'onde dans un système de propagation à multi-illumination gérée par un SLM",  defense 5th January 2006
  • Marwa Elbouz : "Etude et réalisation d'éléments micro-optiques à plusieurs niveaux de phase", defense 29th March 2001

Under Construction