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February 21, 2007

50 nm metallic stamping process

Creating high-resolution metallic interconnects is an essential part of the fabrication of microchips and other nanoscale devices. Researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have developed a simple and robust electrochemical process for the direct patterning of metallic interconnects and other nanostructures.

Fang said the newly created "S4 process" uses a patterned superionic material as a stamp, and etches a metallic film by an electrochemical reaction. In superionic materials, metal ions can move nearly freely around the crystal lattice. Such mobile materials can also be used in batteries and fuel cells.

"The most difficult step in the S4 process is making the stamp extremely flat and smooth," said graduate student Keng H. Hsu, the paper’s lead author. "Currently, our resolution for patterning details is 50 nanometers. As better tools for engraving the stamps are developed, we will achieve finer resolution.

Unlike conventional processing – in which patterns are first placed on photoresist, followed by metal deposition and subsequent etching – the S4 process creates high-resolution metallic nanopatterns in a single step, potentially reducing manufacturing costs and increasing yields.

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