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This module was developed as part of the Rice University course CHEM-496: Chemistry of Electronic Materials . This module was prepared with the assistance of Angela Cindy Wei.


In photolithography, a pattern may be transferred onto a photoresist film by exposing the photoresist to light through a mask of the pattern. In the semiconductor industry, the photolithographic procedure includes the following steps as illustrated in [link] : coating a base material with photoresist, exposing the resist through a mask to light, developing the resist, etching the exposed areas of the base, and stripping the remaining resist off.

Steps in optical printing using photolithography.

Upon exposure to light, the photoresist may become more or less soluble depending on the chemical properties of the particular resist material. The photochemical reactions include chain scission, cross-linking, and the rearrangement of molecules. If the exposed areas of the photoresist become more soluble, then it is a positive resist; conversely, if the exposed resist becomes less soluble, then it is a negative resist. In developing the photoresist, the more soluble material is removed leaving a positive or a negative image of the mask pattern.


Photoresists were initially developed for the printing industry. In the 1920s, the application of photoresists spread to the printed circuit board industry. Photoresists for semiconductor use were first developed in the 1950s; Kodak developed commercial negative photoresists and shortly after, Shipley developed a line of positive resists. Several other companies have entered the market since that time in hopes of manufacturing resist products which meet the increasing demands of the semiconductor industry: narrower line widths, fewer defects, and higher production rates.

Photoresist composition

Several functional requirements must be met for a photoresist to be used in the semiconductor industry. Photoresist polymers must be soluble for easy deposition onto a substrate by spin-coating. Good photoresist-substrate adhesion properties are required to minimize undercutting, to maintain edge acuity, and to control the feature sizes. The photoresist must be chemically resistant to whichever etchants are to be used. Sensitivity of the photoresist to a particular light source is essential to the functionality of a photoresist. The speed at which chemical changes occur in a photoresist is its contrast. The contrast of a resist is dependent on the molecular weight distribution of the polymers: a broad molecular weight distribution results in a low contrast resist. High contrast resists produce higher resolution images.

The four basic components of a photoresist are the polymer, the solvent, sensitizers, and other additives. The role of the polymer is to either polymerize or photosolubilize when exposed to light. Solvents allow the photoresist to be applied by spin-coating. The sensitizers control the photochemical reactions and additives may be used to facilitate processing or to enhance material properties. Photochemical changes to polymers are essential to the functionality of a photoresist. Polymers are composed primarily of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen-based molecules arranged in a repeated pattern. Negative photoresists are based on polyisopreme polymers; negative resist polymers are not chemically bonded to each other, but upon exposure to light, the polymers crosslink, or polymerize. Positive photoresists are formulated from phenol-formaldehyde novolak resins; the positive resist polymers are relatively insoluble, but upon exposure to light, the polymers undergo photosolubilization.

Questions & Answers

Is there any normative that regulates the use of silver nanoparticles?
Damian Reply
what king of growth are you checking .?
What fields keep nano created devices from performing or assimulating ? Magnetic fields ? Are do they assimilate ?
Stoney Reply
why we need to study biomolecules, molecular biology in nanotechnology?
Adin Reply
yes I'm doing my masters in nanotechnology, we are being studying all these domains as well..
what school?
biomolecules are e building blocks of every organics and inorganic materials.
anyone know any internet site where one can find nanotechnology papers?
Damian Reply
sciencedirect big data base
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
On having this app for quite a bit time, Haven't realised there's a chat room in it.
what is biological synthesis of nanoparticles
Sanket Reply
how did you get the value of 2000N.What calculations are needed to arrive at it
Smarajit Reply
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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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