Absorbance Modulation Optical Lithography: Simulating the Performance of an Adaptable Absorbance Mask in the Near-Field.
Thesis DisciplineElectrical Engineering
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameDoctor of Philosophy
The challenge for lithography today is to continue the reduction of feature size whilst facing severe theoretical and practical limitations. In 2006 Rajesh Menon and Hank Smith proposed a new lithography system named absorbance modulation optical lithography (AMOL) [Menon 2006]. AMOL proposed replacing the normal metal mask of a lithography system with an absorbance modulation layer (AML), made from a photochromic material. This allows, through the competition between two incident wavelengths, the creation of an adaptive absorbance mask. The AML allows intimate contact to an underlying resist and hence the optical near-field may be used to create sub-diffraction limited exposures. The aim of this thesis is to model AMOL and demonstrate the abilities and the limits of the system, particularly focusing on sub-diffraction limited imaging.
This thesis describes the construction of a vector electromagnetic simulation to explore the idea and performance of AMOL, and an exploration of the ability of AMOL to propagate sub-diffraction limited images into a photoresist. A finite element method (FEM) model was constructed to simulate the formation of apertures in the AML and light transmission through the system. Three major areas of interest were explored in this thesis; the effect of polarisation on imaging, using a plasmonic reflector layers (PRLs) to improve the depth of focus (DOF), and introducing a superlens to AMOL.
Investigations of polarisation demonstrated strong preference for a transverse magnetic (TM) polarised exposing wavelength for near-field exposures. Associated with polarisation, and supporting work with absorbance gratings, the importance of the material parameters of the AML in allowing sub-diffraction limited exposures was discussed. It was also noted that, in common with all near-field systems, the depth of focus (DOF) was poor, worse than comparable metal systems. This thesis also demonstrates that the introduction of a PRL can improve the DOF and process latitude for resist thicknesses up to 60 nm and, although performance was reduced when using a silver PRL, the substantial improvements to the DOF and process latitude make a PRL valuable for an AMOL system.
This thesis also models the superlens to an AMOL system, which theoretically allows propagation of the image in the near-field. It is demonstrated that the superlens can project an AMOL image into an underlying resist, but that this image is degraded, especially for thick and non-ideal superlenses. The superlens does have a second useful effect, as it can act as a dichroic filter; decreasing the intensity ratio in the resist by a factor of ten, overcoming issues of resist sensitivity. The superlens can allow image projection and filtering with AMOL, however improvements to the available superlens materials or changes to the AML will be needed to avoid image deterioration.
This thesis has developed the first full-vector model of an absorbance modulation optical lithography (AMOL) system. This model has been used to increase the understanding of the complex effects that go into the creation of sub-diffraction limited features with AMOL. In particular the model has been used to investigate polarisation, PRLs and superlenses in AMOL. This thesis demonstrates the ability of AMOL to create narrow apertures and sub-diffraction limited exposures in a photoresist, and describes the limitations of AMOL, including material parameters and DOF. AMOL is a new and interesting lithography technique; this thesis simulates the abilities and challenges of sub-diffraction lithography using an AMOL system.