Antireflection Coatings

AR show


Antireflection coatings (AR) are used to reduce the Fresnel reflectance of optical components. In imaging systems, AR coatings improve the efficiency because they provide less light lost. In complex optical systems, the reduction in reflections also improves the contrast of the image by elimination of stray light.

OptiLayer allows designing all types of AR coatings:

  • Narrow-band and broadband AR coatings;
  • Single-band, dual-band, multiple-band AR coatings; 
  • AR coatings at normal and oblique incidence;
  • AR operating in all spectral ranges;
  • AR coatings formed from two, three and more materials;
  • AR coatings using absorbing layers;
  • AR coatings with specified color properties;
  • AR coatings in stacks

It follows from the theory that, at normal angle of incidence and at oblique incidence case (s-polarization), two-component AR designs with the highest and lowest available refractive indices form an optimal class of AR designs.

Residual reflectance of broadband AR coatings is decreasing with increase of optical thickness of the coating and with growing the number of layers. At the same time, there is a lower limit of the residual reflectance. 

We present a video example of the designing broadband AR coating at YouTube YouTube

It has been shown that there exists the minimum achievable residual reflectance of broadband AR coatings.

This limit depends on:

  • Relative width of the antireflection spectral range;
  • Ratio between high and low refractive indices;
  • Ratio between low index material and refractive index of the incidence medium;
  • Ratio between substrate refractive index and refractive index of the incidence medium.

You can estimate residual reflectance for your design problem here. This formula gives accurate estimations for broadband AR design problems when relative width of AR range is more than 2.


Example: two-octave AR coating operating in the spectral range from 450nm to 1800 nm. Layer materials are Ta2O5 and SiO2, refractive indices are specified by Cauchy formulas. Substrate is Suprasil. Minimum achievable reflectance can be calculated with the help of this formula with: 

  • nH=2.1 (Average index)
  • nL=1.46 (Average index)
  • ns=1.46 (Average index)
  • λl=450 nm
  • λu=1800 nm

The formula estimates minimum achievable reflectance as 1.1%

The simplest AR coating contains 10 layers and achieves reflectance equal to 1.6%.

This coating was produced at Helios deposition plant. See comparison of the theoretical and experimental data at this picture. The substrate is covered from one side.

See the details in our publications on AR coatings:

broadband antireflection coating



Example of a dual-band antireflection coating: 

  • Operating spectral ranges: 3.5-5 μm and 7.8-10.5 μm
  • Layer materials: YF3 and ZnS
  • Substrate: Ge

You need one 1-2 second to obtain an excellent AR in multiple spectral ranges.

We prepared a video example that demonstrates designing dual-band AR at YouTube YouTube

dual band antireflection
antireflection coating


OptiLayer allows designing AR operating at oblique incidence. You can specify and target spectral and angular range.


  • Visible spectral range
  • AOI from 0 to 45 degrees
  • Materials with refractive indices 2.35 and 1.45
  • Glass substrate
  • Average polarization (non-polarized light)

For designing details see our video example at YouTube YouTube




OptiLayer allows simultaneous specifying conventional, integral, EFI and color targets. Antireflection coatings with additional requirements can be easily designed. 

Example: AR in the visible range with specified color properties:

  • AR operates in the VIS and in the angular range from 0 to 45 degrees;
  • Color of the reflected light is pink

AR Omnidir Color 1



Possible 12-layer coating exhibits low reflectance in the visible spectral range at AOI from 0 to 45 degrees (right pane) and required color properties (left pane).

See our video example at YouTube YouTube

omnidierctional antireflection coating

OptiLayer allows designing stacks - systems of the substrates covered by optical coatings. You can specify a sequence of the substrates and what sides should be covered by multilayer coatings. You can apply all OptiLayer algorithms in order to design multilayers of the stack.It is possible to specify incident medium and exit medium.

Example: a stack consists of three substrates (B270, BK7and F5). It is required to design AR coatings for each surface.

Schematic of the stack consisting of three substrates of 1mm, 1 mm and 2mm thickness. The gaps of 2mm and 3 mm between the gaps are filled with Air.

antireflection coatings

OptiLayer allows you to define identical coatings at all surfaces.In this case you start with the same design.

Schematic of the stack consisting of three substrates covered with identical 12-layer AR coatings. Design process takes some seconds only. Layers are numbered starting from the substrate side.

antirecflection coating

Reflectance of the uncoated substrates shown above.

thin film design

Reflectance of the stack shown above.

antireflection design


OptiLayer allows you to specify different coatings at each surface. Five AR coatings (12, 13, 12, 8 and 8-layer) are designed for three substrates depicted above.

Such calculations are more time consuming because more layers are involved.

Design process of a stack with AR coatings in illustrated at YouTube YouTube 

antireflection design