A modulator for modulating incident rays of light, the modulator having a plurality of equally spaced apart elements, each of which includes a light reflective planar surface. The elements are arranged parallel to each other with their light reflective surfaces parallel to each other. The modulator includes means for supporting elements in relation to one another and means for moving particular ones of the elements relative to others so that the moved elements transit between a first configuration wherein the modulator acts to reflect the incident rays of light as a plane mirror, and a second configuration wherein the modulator diffracts the light reflected therefrom. In operation, the light reflective surfaces of the elements remain parallel to each other in both the first and the second configurations. The perpendicular spacing between the reflective surfaces of respective elements is equal to m/4 times the wavelength of the incident rays of light, wherein m=an even whole number or zero when the elements are in the first configuration and m=an odd whole number when the elements are in the second configuration.