Scaling down the dimensions of concentrating photovoltaic systems based on plane Fresnel lenses has several promising advantages. By conserving a designed concentration ratio and reducing the aperture size of the lens, the working distance decreases as well. This provides thinner modules and the dimensions of the used solar cells can be scaled down to the millimeter range. An important benefit of this miniaturization process is the avoidance of technically demanding cooling. In this work the design of a plane Fresnel lens is introduced and the basic limitations concerning the achievable concentration ratio are investigated based on geometrical optics. However, accompanied by the down scaling of the prism dimensions, pure ray tracing based on the geometrical optics approximation may no longer be valid for the determination of the concentration ratio. In terms of micro-structured Fresnel lenses for solar concentration, only a qualitative description of this limit - typically a rule of thumb - is provided in the literature. For this reason a quantitative investigation of the influence of the prisms' down scaling and thus the appearing wave optical effects on the obtained concentration ratio is presented. In a final step the introduced monochromatic investigations are extended to a polychromatic analysis. This allows for the prediction of the influence of miniaturization on the effective concentration ratio for a given spectrum and thus the adequate size of the receiver. A better quantitative understanding of the impact of diffraction in micro-structured Fresnel lenses might help to optimize the design of several applications in nonimaging optics.© (2010) COPYRIGHT SPIE--The International Society for Optical Engineering. Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.