The main topic of this thesis is the fabrication and characterization of structures smaller than the wavelength of light, for operation in the visible or near infrared spectral range. In the first part of this thesis, the fabrication of periodic structures in one and two dimensions with an interference photolithography technique is described in detail. The structure periodicities that have been fabricated with this process ranges between 270 nm and a few microns on areas that can be as large as 100 cm2. Typical structure thicknesses are approximately equal to the period. In particular, a square lattice of pillars with a period of 270 nm has been created on the (non-flat) surface of a quartz microlens array and exhibits anti-reflective properties. Experimental results show a 15 % attenuation of the reflectivity and a 3 % enhancement of the transmissivity over the visible spectral range. In the second part of the thesis the structures are fabricated by e-beam lithography to ensure very precise devices shapes. The experimental results are obtained in the infrared range with two different structures, called photonic crystals. The first structure, a superprism, is a triangular lattice of pillars infiltrated by liquid crystals. A displacement of the output light spot is measured to be 20.5 µm for a wavelength variation of 27 nm. The structure length is 70 µm. The device, based on standard silicon technology, should allow integration of the device as a multiplexer/demultiplexer system into optical micro-circuits. The second structure, a tunable resonant cavity, is a wavelength filter working in the near infrared spectrum. The active area is composed of a photonic waveguide with a triangular lattice made of sub-micrometer holes. Additional nanostructuring in the light waveguide acts as a resonant cavity. The tunability of the device is obtained due to the liquid crystals which are infiltrated into the nanostructure. A 32 nm shift of the transmitted light peak inside the photonic band gap is measured by changing the temperature from room temperature to 45 °C.