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Home > Nanotechnology Columns > UAlbany College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering > CNSE Creates the Center for NanoScale Lithography in partnership with Vistec Lithography

Dr.Timothy Groves
Empire Innovation Professor of Nanoscale Science; Director, Center for Nanolithography Development
UAlbany College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering

Abstract:
The College of Nanoscale Science & Engineering (CNSE) of the University at Albany, working in partnership with global industry leader Vistec Lithography, has established the Center for NanoScale Lithography (CNL), a world-class center for research and development in the creation of patterns on the nanometer scale of dimensions. Nanoscale patterning is one of several essential components, needed to assure the future of nanotechnology.

November 19th, 2007

CNSE Creates the Center for NanoScale Lithography in partnership with Vistec Lithography

The College of Nanoscale Science & Engineering (CNSE) of the University at Albany, working in partnership with global industry leader Vistec Lithography, has established the Center for NanoScale Lithography (CNL), a world-class center for research and development in the creation of patterns on the nanometer scale of dimensions. Nanoscale patterning is one of several essential components, needed to assure the future of nanotechnology.

The mission of the center is multifaceted: to provide advanced patterning capabilities to university and global partners within CNSE for creation of diverse nanoscale patterns; to extend the state-of-the-art in e-beam optics and lithography through a close working relationship between CNSE and Vistec Lithography; and, to establish a world-class center for research and education in nanometer-scale, bottom-up lithography.

CNSE is pleased to partner with Vistec Lithography, a recognized global leader in the development and manufacture of advanced commercial e-beam lithography tools. Vistec brings real-world expertise and demonstrated know-how, with more than 100 of its tools now installed and operating in research, development, and manufacturing facilities around the world.

The CNL's centerpiece is the Vistec VB300 high-resolution Gaussian e-beam writer, which is the most advanced commercially available high-resolution writer in the world. Related equipment includes resist coating and development tools, a Zeiss scanning electron microscope for pattern inspection and fine-line metrology, and a Vistec IPRO tool for absolute measurement of pattern placement and overlay accuracy. In short, all of the tools and processes needed to perform advanced e-beam lithography are at the CNL.

A focused electron beam represents the smallest, finest practical writing pencil known, with the capability to create patterns with features as small as a few nanometers in size. The pattern is exposed by the electron beam in a thin layer of organic polymer, known as resist. The process is similar to photography, but on a much finer scale. The patterned resist layer acts as a mask for further processing, thus enabling a host of useful devices. Examples include advanced transistors, with dimensions smaller than those available using conventional optical lithography. These transistors represent the basic building blocks of the most advanced integrated circuit chips. Other useful devices can be made as well, including photonic crystals, biological templates, and devices for magnetic data storage, among many others.

E-beam lithography is already well established as the method of choice for commercial manufacturing of photomasks needed for conventional optical lithography. This process makes use of the ability of an e-beam writer to generate its own patterns, based on computation. This is in contrast to conventional optical lithography, which can only replicate a pre-existing pattern.

The partnership between CNSE and Vistec Lithography is significant to the CNL's ability to provide advanced patterning to users within CNSE and in the community. In addition, the CNL also will provide the development of post-CMOS logic devices that will form the basis of future computer chips, and templates for bio-molecular structures and other applications.

Working together with Vistec Lithography, CNSE will extend the state-of-the-art in e-beam lithography by developing and demonstrating enhancements to the VB300 e-beam writer. This will improve lithographic quality in terms of pattern fidelity and throughput.

The long-term goals for the CNL include exploring fundamental improvements to make e-beam lithography much faster that it is today, while analyzing and assessing the applicability of emerging bottom-up lithography technologies. With the unparalleled infrastructure and expertise already present at CNSE, we strongly believe the collaboration between CNSE and Vistec that helped create the CNL has the critical mass to make these goals a reality.

Author's note:
Dr. Timothy Groves is Director of the Center for NanoScale Lithography and Empire Innovation Professor of Nanoscale Science at CNSE. He spent the past seven years as director of technology of Vistec, where he oversaw the entire Vistec Lithography technical development and deployment strategy, including the design of next-generation tools, including the VB300 Gaussian e-beam writer. Prior to this, he developed advanced e-beam patterning technology at IBM and Hewlett Packard.


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