Rapid prototyping for R&D

Advanced and novel nanodevices demand precise control of size, shape, and position of the involved nanostructures. New substrates, resists, materials and complex geometries with small feature sizes are often required. In R&D these “parameters” have to be iteratively adapted to optimized device properties.  Therefore one tries to keep iterations short in order to accelerate scientific progress. For example, mask-less technologies are already very successful in decreasing complexity, production time and costs.

The mask-less NanoFrazor technology is particularly suited for prototyping in research and development due to its general applicability to various materials and surfaces. But it goes even a few steps further: As no resist development or optical proximity corrections are required, time can be saved and complexity can be reduced. The in-situ metrology capabilities allow for an instantaneous feedback and real-time adjustments on the written nanostructures for a greatly reduced turnaround time compared to e-beam lithography. Using underlying features for marker-less overlay saves time for creating the markers and allows for a high alignment accuracy.

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Drawing of a rapid prototyping cycle: Comparison between e-beam and the NanoFrazor.

Small Series & Customized Products

Serial patterning techniques are at a severe disadvantage compared to optical lithography and other replication technologies. However, not all high-resolution nanolithography devices require densely packed structures throughout the wafer like Memory and Logic devices with billions of transistors per unit.

For low-volume production of highly-specialized products that require complex, high-resolution features or other special functionalities in certain areas (e.g. chemical functionalization or special 3D shapes), the NanoFrazor Industrial can be a cost-effective tool. Using its in-situ metrology capabilities, the high-resolution parts can be written next to the low-resolution areas by Mix-and-Match. This can be done with a minimal overlay error with respect to the underlying structures, even without the use of alignment markers. This alignment method also does not suffer from dose redistribution due to backscattering, unlike electron or focused ion-beam lithography, and substrate damage is avoided through the absence of charged particles.

For example, future nanophotonics devices, like couplers, waveguides or modulators will require much higher resolution than today and, compared to FinFET structures, they require relatively small areas. This makes them a target market for 3D-nanolithography using Mix-and-Match. Security features could be another possibility. For example, a local modification of large holograms created by conventional lithography – modified by the NanoFrazor – could add another counterfeit protection layer which significantly increases their security.

Another field of application is the fabrication of high-resolution, highly customized distributed feedback (DFB) laser gratings, e.g. tuned for a particular wavelength. If versatile 3D nanolithography with a high vertical resolution is used instead, like the NanoFrazor technology, coupling efficiency and general utility of such gratings could be increased.

Lastly, some of the existing concepts of quantum computing rely on precise nanolithography, e.g. well-defined nanoelectrodes, 3D micro-cavities or micro-lenses. As particle beams would introduce defects to sensitive qubits, the NanoFrazor technology could facilitate preparation of certain types of sensitive quantum systems, which would otherwise not be possible.