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Wavefront engineering

One way to get around the fundamental limitations of an imaging system illustrated in [link] is through one of a variety of techniques often termed wavefront engineering. Here, not only is the amplitude mapped from the object plane to the image plane, but the phase structure of the light going through the mask is manipulated to improve the contrast and allow for effective values of k 1 lower than the theoretical minimum for uniform illumination. The most important example of these techniques is the phase shift mask or PSM. Here the mask consists of two types of areas, those that allow light to pass through unaffected and some regions where the amplitude of the light is unaffected but its phase is shifted. The resulting electric fields will then sum to zero in some places where use of an ordinary mask would have resulted in a positive intensity.

There are many problems with the practical introduction of various phase shifting techniques. Construction of masks with phase shifting elements (usually a thin layer of PMMA) is difficult and expensive. Mask damage, already a key problem in conventional production techniques, becomes an even greater issue as traditional mask repair techniques can no longer be used. Also identifying errors in a mask is made more difficult by the odd design.

Interaction with resists

The ultimate resolution of a photolithographic process is not dependent on optics alone, but also on the interaction with the resist. One of the key concerns, particularly as wavelengths of sources become shorter, is the ability of the source light to penetrate the resist film. Many polymers absorb strongly in the UV which can limit the interaction to the surface. In such a case only a thin layer of the polymer is exposed and the pattern may not be fully uncovered during developing. One important property of resist is the presence of saturable absorption .. Saturable absorbers are those absorption sites in the polymer that when excited to a higher state remain there for relatively long periods of time and do not continue to absorb into higher states. If only saturable absorption is present in a polymer film, then continued irradiation eventually leads to transparency as all absorption sites will be saturated. This allows light penetration through the resist film with full exposure to the substrate surface.

Full penetration of the film leads to a second problem, multiple reflection interference. This occurs when light which has penetrated the film to the substrate is then reflected back towards the surface. The result is a standing wave interference pattern which causes uneven exposure through the film. The problem becomes more severe as optical limits are approached where feature size is approximately equal to the wavelength of the light source meaning such standing waves are the same size as the irradiated features. In the most advanced lithography techniques such as 248 nm lithography with excimer lasers, a special anti-reflectance coating must be laid down before the resist is deposited. Development of an AR coating that has no adverse effects during the exposure and development process is difficult.

One completely new approach to photolithography resists are top-surface-imaged resists or TSI resists. These processes do not require light penetration through the whole volume of resist. In a TSI resist, a silyl amine is selectively in-diffused from the gas phase into a phenolic polymer in response to the laser irradiation. This diffusion process creates a silyl ether, and development takes place in the form of an oxygen plasma etch, sometimes termed 'dry developing'. Depth of focus limitations are thus avoided as exposure is necessary only at the surface of the resist layer, and the resolution of the etching process determines the final resist profile. Such a technique has tremendous advantages, particularly as source wavelengths become shorter and transparent polymers more rare. Such as resist has a clear optical advantage as well since the image need only be formed at the surface of the resist layer reducing the DOF needed to 100 nm or less, allowing for larger numerical aperture lithography systems with smaller critical dimensions.

Light sources

Current photolithography techniques in production utilize ultraviolet lamps as the light source. In the most advanced production facilities, 0.35 µm mercury i-line technology is used. For the next generation of chips such as 64 Mbit DRAMS better performance is necessary and either i-line technology combined with PSM or a new light source is required. Certainly for the 256 Mbit generation using 0.25 µm technology, the i-line source is no longer adequate. The apparent successor is the 248 nm KrF laser, which entered the most advanced production facilities in the late 1990s. KrF technology is often referred to in the literature as Deep UV or DUV lithography. For further shrinkage to 0.18 µm technology, the ArF excimer laser at 193 nm will likely be used with the transition likely to take place in the first few years of the next decade.

At critical dimensions lower than 0.18 - 0.1 µm and below, a whole host of technological problems will need to be overcome in every stage of manufacturing including photolithography. One likely scheme for future lithography is to use X-rays where the wavelength of the light is so much smaller than the feature size such that proximity printing can be used. This is where the mask is placed close to the surface and an X-ray source is scanned across using no optics. Common X-ray sources for such techniques include synchrotron radiation and laser produced plasmas. It has also been widely suggested that the cost of implementing X-ray or other post-optical techniques together with the increased cost of every other manufacturing process step will make improvements beyond 0.1 µm cost prohibitive where benefits in increased circuit speed and density will be dwarfed by massive manufacturing cost. It is noted however that such predictions have been made in the past with regard to other technological barriers.


  • M. Born and E. Wolf, Principles of Optics 6th Edition , Pergamon Press, New York (1980).
  • M. Nakase, IEICE Trans. Electron. , 1993, E76-C , 26.
  • M. Rothschild, A. R. Forte, M. W. Horn, R. R. Kunz, S. C. Palmateer, and J. H. C. Sedlacek, IEEE J. Selected Topics in Quantum Electronics , 1995, 1 , 916.

Questions & Answers

anyone know any internet site where one can find nanotechnology papers?
Damian Reply
Introduction about quantum dots in nanotechnology
Praveena Reply
what does nano mean?
Anassong Reply
nano basically means 10^(-9). nanometer is a unit to measure length.
do you think it's worthwhile in the long term to study the effects and possibilities of nanotechnology on viral treatment?
Damian Reply
absolutely yes
how to know photocatalytic properties of tio2 nanoparticles...what to do now
Akash Reply
it is a goid question and i want to know the answer as well
characteristics of micro business
for teaching engĺish at school how nano technology help us
Do somebody tell me a best nano engineering book for beginners?
s. Reply
there is no specific books for beginners but there is book called principle of nanotechnology
what is fullerene does it is used to make bukky balls
Devang Reply
are you nano engineer ?
fullerene is a bucky ball aka Carbon 60 molecule. It was name by the architect Fuller. He design the geodesic dome. it resembles a soccer ball.
what is the actual application of fullerenes nowadays?
That is a great question Damian. best way to answer that question is to Google it. there are hundreds of applications for buck minister fullerenes, from medical to aerospace. you can also find plenty of research papers that will give you great detail on the potential applications of fullerenes.
what is the Synthesis, properties,and applications of carbon nano chemistry
Abhijith Reply
Mostly, they use nano carbon for electronics and for materials to be strengthened.
is Bucky paper clear?
carbon nanotubes has various application in fuel cells membrane, current research on cancer drug,and in electronics MEMS and NEMS etc
so some one know about replacing silicon atom with phosphorous in semiconductors device?
s. Reply
Yeah, it is a pain to say the least. You basically have to heat the substarte up to around 1000 degrees celcius then pass phosphene gas over top of it, which is explosive and toxic by the way, under very low pressure.
Do you know which machine is used to that process?
how to fabricate graphene ink ?
for screen printed electrodes ?
What is lattice structure?
s. Reply
of graphene you mean?
or in general
in general
Graphene has a hexagonal structure
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what is biological synthesis of nanoparticles
Sanket Reply
what's the easiest and fastest way to the synthesize AgNP?
Damian Reply
types of nano material
abeetha Reply
I start with an easy one. carbon nanotubes woven into a long filament like a string
many many of nanotubes
what is the k.e before it land
what is the function of carbon nanotubes?
I'm interested in nanotube
what is nanomaterials​ and their applications of sensors.
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Source:  OpenStax, Chemistry of electronic materials. OpenStax CNX. Aug 09, 2011 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col10719/1.9
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