Sculptured thin films from are grown by ion beam assisted deposition under conditions with very oblique angles of incidence for the particle flux. The nanodimensional structures within the sculptured thin films are designed in geometries of columns, chevrons, left-handed multi-fold and continuous screws, and comprise non-chiral and chiral properties. The growth is studied with emphasis on self-controlled process driven structure alignment across the substrate. Intriguing optical fingerprints from the various types of sculptured thin films are highlighted by reflection-type single-wavelength generalized Mueller matrix ellipsometry and spectrally-integrated diffracted light scattering intensity measurement scans. We suggest the ellipsometry approach for chirality assessment, and suggest possible applications of the sculptured thin films in sub-wavelength nanodiffractive structures, for example.