Materials development for step and flash imprint lithography
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The quest for smaller and faster integrated circuits (ICs) continues, but traditional photolithography, the patterning process used to fabricate them, is rapidly approaching its physical limits. Step and Flash Imprint Lithography (S-FIL®) is a low-cost patterning technique which has shown great potential for next generation semiconductor manufacturing. To date, all methods of imprint lithography have utilized a sacrificial resist to produce device features. Our goal has been to develop functional materials such as insulators that can be directly patterned by S-FIL and then remain as a part of the end product. Directly patternable dielectric (DPD) materials must meet multiple mechanical and physical requirements for application in microelectronic devices. In some cases these requirements are conflicting, which leads to material design challenges. Many different materials and curing methods have been evaluated. Thiol-ene based approaches to patterning hyperbranched materials incorporating Polyhedral Oligomeric Silsesquioxanes (POSS) have shown the greatest promise. Thiol-ene polymerization takes place by a free radical mechanism, but it has the advantage over acrylates of not being inhibited by the presence of oxygen. This greatly eases some engineering design challenges for the S-FIL process. A number of thiol-ene formulations have been prepared and their mechanical and electrical properties evaluated. SFIL-R has been introduced as an alternative technology to SFIL. SFIL-R offers improvements to SFIL in several ways, but requires a high silicon content, low viscosity, planarizing material. Photopolymerizable branched siloxanes were synthesized and evaluated to function as a planarizing topcoat for this technology. Both SFIL and SFIL-R require a clean separation of the template from the resist material. Fouling of templates is a major concern in imprint lithography and fluorinated materials are used to treat templates to lower their surface energy for better separation. It has been observed that the template treatment degrades over time and needs to be replaced for further imprinting. A fluorinated silazane was designed to repair the degraded areas. This material was evaluated and functions as designed.