Materials and processes for advanced lithography applications
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Step and Flash Imprint Lithography (S-FIL) is a high resolution, next-generation lithography technique that uses an ambient temperature and low pressure process to replicate high resolution images in a UV-curable liquid material. Application of the S-FIL process in conjunction with multi-level imprint templates and new imprint materials enables one S-FIL step to reproduce the same structures that require two photolithography steps, thereby greatly reducing the number of patterning steps required for the copper, dual damascene process used to fabricate interconnect wirings in modern integrated circuits. Two approaches were explored for the implementation of S-FIL in the dual damascene process: sacrificial imprint materials and imprintable dielectric materials. Sacrificial imprint materials function as a pattern recording medium during S-FIL and a three-dimensional etch mask during the dielectric substrate etch, enabling the simultaneous patterning of both the via and metal structures in the dielectric substrate. Development of sacrificial imprint materials and the associated imprint and etch processes are described. Application of S-FIL and the sacrificial imprint material in a commercial copper dual damascene process successfully produced functional copper interconnect structures, demonstrating the feasibility of integrating multi-level S-FIL in the copper dual damascene process. Imprintable dielectric materials are designed to combine the multi-level patterning capability of S-FIL with novel dielectric precursor materials, enabling the simultaneous deposition and patterning of the interlayer dielectric material. Several candidate imprintable dielectric materials were evaluated: sol-gel, polyhedral oligomeric silsesquioxane (POSS) epoxide, POSS acrylate, POSS azide, and POSS thiol. POSS thiol shows the most promise as functional imprintable dielectric material, although additional work in the POSS thiol formulation and viscous dispense process are needed to produce functional interconnect structures. Integration of S-FIL with imprintable dielectric materials would enable further streamlining of the dual damascene fabrication process. The fabrication of electronic devices on flexible substrates represents an opportunity for the development of macroelectronics such as flexible displays and large area devices. Traditional optical lithography encounters alignment and overlay limitations when applied on flexible substrates. A thermally activated, dual-tone photoresist system and its associated etch process were developed to enable the simultaneous patterning of two device layers on a flexible substrate.