Future applications of microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) require lithographic performance of very high aspect ratio. Chemically amplified resists (CARs) such as the negative tone commercial SU-8 provide critical advantages in sensitivity, resolution, and process efficiency in deep ultraviolet, electron-beam, and X-ray lithographies (XRLs), which result in a very high aspect ratio. In this investigation, an SU-8 resist was characterized and optimized for X-ray lithographic applications by studying the cross-linking process of the resist under different conditions of resist thickness and X-ray exposure dose. The exposure dose of soft X-ray (SXR) irradiation at the average weighted wavelength of 1.20 nm from a plasma focus device ranges from 100 to 1600 mJ/cm<sup>2</sup> on the resist surface. Resist thickness varies from 3.5 to 15 μm. The cross-linking process of the resist during post-exposure bake (PEB) was accurately monitored using Fourier transform infrared (FT-IR) spectroscopy. The infrared absorption peaks at 862, 914, 972, and 1128 cm<sup>-1</sup> in the spectrum of the SU-8 resist were found to be useful indicators for the completion of cross-linking in the resist. Results of the experiments showed that the cross-linking of SU-8 was optimized at the exposure dose of 800 mJ/cm<sup>2</sup> for resist thicknesses of 3.5, 9.5, and 15 μm. PEB temperature was set at 95°C and time at 3 min. The resist thickness was measured using interference patterns in the FT-IR spectra of the resist. Test structures with an aspect ratio 3:1 on 10 μm thick SU-8 resist film were obtained using scanning electron microscopy (SEM).

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