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How can I approach this task:

I need to design diffraction-limited lens for monochromatic light (~1nm line width, so I guess no need to correct chromatic aberrations), geometry aberrations are also irrelevant BUT maximal lpmm required over as wide as possible area (i.e. coma need to be corrected for example) and NA should be at least 0.3-0.5.

How should I approach this task? Is Zemax is state of art software for that kind of tasks? What kinds of lens designs should I start to look at?

Manufacturing is not a problem (provided that there are no aspherical elements).

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This sounds like a question for an undergraduate lens design class. Is this homework? – Colin K Jun 16 '11 at 15:18
No, I want to design reduction lens for projection lithography (buying one is 1000x over my budget). No rocket science - it's 400-ish nm, not 192, and I am not trying to get 100nm lines, 5-10um would be just fine. I already found places where I can manufacture it here in Moscow, so the only thing needed is lens design itself. I am going to do design & optimization myself, but need some suggestion on initial direction & thoughts. – BarsMonster Jun 17 '11 at 4:59
Is this for one-off or a production design? For a one-off or even a small number of prototypes, I would be extremely surprised if you couldn't find an off the shelf part that would do the job for far less than design+manufacturing cost. – user2963 Jun 26 '11 at 2:50
One-off. Well, design is virtually free - let's think that I am paying for my education here :-) I am not sure where one can find off-the shelf lenses for near-UV range :-) I might use off-the-shelf lens parts (especially if I would need aspherics). – BarsMonster Jun 26 '11 at 7:20
@Bars: I see you've added a further bounty to this question, which implies you're not happy with my answer. If you could tell me what is wrong, I might be able to help. But you need to keep in mind that lens design is very complicated and nobody is going to be able to point you to a specific design that will work for you. – Colin K Jun 28 '11 at 19:27
up vote 4 down vote accepted

Lens design is an art as much as a science, and is heavily based on experience. To do this, you would need at least a graduate level background in optical design, and preferably also years of experience. If you have that, Zemax would be quite acceptable, although I personally use Code V. Either one should be more than adequate. Oslo would also work. Generally lens desingers prefer to use what they already know.

In terms of a starting direction, it is best to begin with some standard design that has specs as close as possible to your goal. Given that you are imaging between finite conjugates (I'm assuming this because you are doing lithography) you would likely use something symmetrical about the stop, like a double gauss lens. The double gauss includes some elements for chromatic correction, but you can remove those for simplicity. You may need to add more to improve your performance later on.

In general, a good desk reference for finding a starting design is "Practical Optical System Layout: And Use of Stock Lenses" or "Modern Lens Design: A Resource Manual" by Warren J. Smith.

Of course because you are designing lenses, I assume you already own "Modern Optical Engineering" by Warren J. Smith, because anybody who wants to do any optical design should already be comfortable with that book. If you don't, own it, you're not really an optical engineer :)

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