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NIST grant to support imprint litho research

Posted: 10 May 2004 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:step-and-flash imprint lithography? nist? microelectromechanical systems? mems? semiconductor?

The National Institute of Standards and Technology on Wednesday, May 5, 2004 approved funding for development of step-and-flash imprint lithography (S-FIL), with $17.6 million of NIST funds going to a group of companies working on the imprint approach developed at Molecular Imprints Inc. (MII), based in the U.S.

The NIST funds will be combined with $19.1 million in cost-sharing funds contributed by MII and a group of partners that have worked with MII over the past two years, including KLA-Tencor, Photronics, Motorola Labs and the University of Texas at Austin. The co-founders of MII - chief technology officer S.V. Sreenivasan and Grant Willson - are professors of mechanical engineering and chemistry, respectively, at the University of Texas.

Motorola Labs has worked with MII to develop templates and other supporting technology needed to make imprint lithography practical.

The NIST grant will support work needed to extend the imprint lithography approach to leading-edge semiconductors, where alignment between the mask layers is a critical challenge. Early MII customers have used the systems for compound semiconductors, microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) devices and other applications where alignment demands are somewhat less precise than in leading-edge CMOS devices.

Because imprint lithography uses a 1:1 template, rather than the 4:1 reduction masks used in optical lithography, the patterns must be inscribed in the template at the same size as the printed features - a challenge that the NIST grant will help tackle. From there, the template imprints the patterns in a fluid which hardens after exposure to light.

Last year, imprint lithography was added to the International Technology Roadmap for Semiconductors, another step towards the goal of moving imprint lithography into the mainstream semiconductor industry.

- David Lammers

EE Times

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