X-ray microscopy greatly benefits from the advances in x-ray optics. At the Paul Scherrer Institut, developments in x-ray diffractive optics include the manufacture and optimization of Fresnel zone plates (FZPs) and diffractive optical elements for both soft and hard x-ray regimes. In particular, we demonstrate here a novel method for the production of ultra-high resolution FZPs. This technique is based on the deposition of a zone plate material (iridium) onto the sidewalls of a prepatterned template structure (silicon) by atomic layer deposition. This approach overcomes the limitations due to electron-beam writing of dense patterns in FZP fabrication and provides a clear route to push the resolution into sub-10 nm regime. A FZP fabricated by this method was used to resolve test structures with 12 nm lines and spaces at the scanning transmission x-ray microscope of the PolLux beamline of the Swiss Light Source at 1.2 keV photon energy.