Planar Lensing Lithography: Enhancing the Optical Near Field.
Thesis DisciplineElectrical Engineering
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameDoctor of Philosophy
In 2000, a controversial paper by John Pendry surmised that a slab of negative index material could act as a perfect lens, projecting images with resolution detail beyond the limits of conventional lensing systems. A thin silver slab was his realistic suggestion for a practical near-field superlens - a 'poor-mans perfect lens'. The superlens relied on plasmonic resonances rather than negative refraction to provide imaging. This silver superlens concept was experimentally verified by the author using a novel near-field lithographic technique called Planar Lensing Lithography (PLL), an extension of a previously developed Evanescent Near-Field Optical Lithography (ENFOL) technique. This thesis covers the computational and experimental efforts to test the performance of a silver superlens using PLL, and to compare it with the results produced by ENFOL. The PLL process was developed by creating metal patterned conformable photomasks on glass coverslips and adapting them for use with an available optical exposure system. After sub-diffraction-limited ENFOL results were achieved with this system additional spacer and silver layers were deposited onto the masks to produce a near-field test platform for the silver superlens. Imaging through a silver superlens was achieved in a near-field lithography environment for sub-micron, sub-wavelength, and sub-diffraction-limited features. The performance of PLL masks with 120-, 85-, 60-, and 50-nm thick silver layers was investigated. Features on periods down to 145-nm have been imaged through a 50-nm thick silver layer into a thin photoresist using a broadband mercury arc lamp. The quality of the imaging has been improved by using 365 nm narrowband exposures, however, resolution enhancement was not achieved. Multiple layer silver superlensing has also been experimentally investigated for the first time; it was proposed that a multi-layered superlens could achieve better resolution than a single layer lens for the same total silver thickness. Using a PLL mask with two 30-nm thick silver layers gave 170-nm pitch sub-diffraction-limited resolution, while for a single layer mask with the same total thickness (60 nm) resolution was limited to a 350-nm pitch. The proposed resolution enhancement was verified, however pattern fidelity was reduced, the result of additional surface roughness. Simulation and analytical techniques have been used to investigate and understand vi ABSTRACT the enhancements and limitations of the PLL technique. A Finite-Difference Time- Domain (FDTD) tool was written to produce full-vector numerical simulations and this provided both broad- and narrowband results, allowing image quality as a function of grating period to be investigated. An analytical T-matrix method was also derived to facilitate computationally efficient performance analysis for grating transmission through PLL stacks. Both methods showed that there is a performance advantage for PLL over conventional near-field optical lithography, however, the performance of the system varies greatly with grating period. The advantages of PLL are most prominent for multi-layer lenses. The work of this thesis indicates that the utilisation of plasmonic resonances in PLL and related techniques can enhance the performance of near-field lithography.