Diffractive optical elements able to generate on-axis (zero-order) phase as well as amplitude distributions are described. The proposed elements are surface-relief plates, that is phase-only elements, that are based on concepts of computer-generated masks followed by lithographic and etching processes. The proposed encoding method assumes variable spatial partitioning of the cell and a fixed phase value allocated to each subcell. This method requires the minimal number of etching levels needed for full representation of the wave front, that is three, but can be applied with improved efficiency using more etching levels. The reconstructed amplitude and phase distributions contain some noise owing to the encoding process. Discussion of the error sources is given.
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The authors acknowledge a fruitful discussion with Emanul Marom and Gal Shabtay. Uriel Levy acknowledge the Israeli Ministry of Science and the Arts for financial support.