The field of single and multilayer based optics has seen significant improvements and new applications in recent years. In this paper, we give an overview of the numerous types of single and multilayer optics that have been developed. The fabrication possibilities of well-known regular periodic multilayers have been driven close to the theoretical limit, providing high resolution or high flux optics for a wide range of photon energies. In addition to that, multilayers with a lateral gradient have been developed to be adapted to curved substrates (for example for focusing purposes) or varying incidence angles on long, flat substrates. Depth-graded multilayers with arbitrarily selectable layer thicknesses over the entire layer stack have been simulated and manufactured, mainly as broadband mirrors with immense bandwidths. Finally, new applications of high precision deposition are reference sample for XRF (having several elements in low concentrations of few ng/mm2) and TXRF (with mass deposition in the range of 1011 atoms/cm2) pay tribute to the low detection limits achievable in modern instruments for these techniques.© (2010) COPYRIGHT SPIE--The International Society for Optical Engineering. Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.