A method is proposed to modulate phase using variant square holes in a metallic film based on a fundamental mode approximation model. Phase retardation through square holes in a subwavelength scale in a thin metal film has been analyzed and calculated. Based on the model, a structured lens with a numerical aperture of 0.583 and a focal length of 240 mu m formed by a 2D square hole array in a metallic film is designed. Numerical simulation using the finite-difference time-domain method is carried out, and the results agree with the theoretical analysis. A focal spot close to the diffraction limit can be obtained. (C) 2008 Optical Society of America.