Sol-gel hybrid materials containing a large quantity of photoactive molecules exhibited large changes in both refractive index and volume on UV exposure. The materials were used for fabrication of Fresnel-type lenses using a simple method: pinhole diffraction imaging. With this technique, problems associated with the contact method could be overcome and Fresnel-type lenses with good focusing performance could be fabricated easily. Importantly, a high diffraction efficiency approaching 85% could be obtained. (C) 2004 American Institute of Physics.