This paper presents the design and fabrication of several versions of structured thin films (STF). One kind of STF is a sculptured thin film, generally deposited with a glancing angle deposition technique. Several optical components were designed and fabricated using this technique. This includes a TiO2 based wave-plate for an operating wavelength of 550 nm, a multilayer based beam splitter with a transmittance of 75.0% for TM light and 38.6% for TE light at 632 nm, and a multilayer based polarization neutral transmission filter for an incidence angle of 45°. Multilayer dielectric gratings (MDG) present another type of STF. To obtain a broad diffraction bandwidth, a novel MDG structure with three materials is proposed. Using multi-parameter optimization, a broadband spectrum with an efficiency >97.5% and a bandwidth >100 nm centered at 800 nm was obtained. For the first time, a new type of two-dimensional (2D) MDG is proposed to obtain higher efficiency (>98%) and broader bandwidth (>110 nm). Finally, the designs of pulse compression gratings and of broadband polarizers, which can be fabricated with a single material, are presented.© (2010) COPYRIGHT SPIE--The International Society for Optical Engineering. Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.