24 February 2011

USHIO America launches VUV ashing system for nano-imprint lithography equipment

USHIO America Inc of Cypress, CA, USA (a subsidiary of USHIO Inc of Tokyo, Japan that provides specialty and general-illumination lighting solutions) plans to start selling the nano-imprint VUV (vacuum ultraviolet) ashing system ‘CHIPs’ (Compact HiPower System) in the USA in March. Incorporated into nano-imprint lithography (NIL) equipment for fabricating circuit patterns of devices including LEDs, MEMS, functional films and biochips, CHIPs allows non-contact and damage-free cleaning, surface improvement, and ashing of templates and workpieces.

NIL technology transfers a circuit pattern by directly imprinting a template (or mold) with the circuit pattern onto a workpiece (a resist-coated silicon, sapphire, or film substrate). It has the advantage of being a low-cost process (allowing large-area pattern transfer) and being suitable for mass-production. NIL has already been put into practical use for fabricating circuit patterns with line-widths on the micron (µm) scale. Via further R&D, NIL has evolved to establish a finer-pattern process technology on the nanometer (nm) scale.

Ushio says that, due to putting a workpiece into contact with a template, the NIL process currently faces the following challenges, which are becoming obstacles for fabricating finer patterns as well as for enhancing productivity:

  • contamination of templates with resist residue;
  • increase in resist fill time and fill failures;
  • deterioration of release property between a template and a workpiece.

Conventional wet- or dry-cleaning equipment needs to be separately installed to clean the templates used for a certain number of process cycles by removing them from the NIL equipment. This causes downtime, reducing productivity. Also, wet-cleaning equipment has some disadvantages: it has insufficient cleaning capability, causes the risk of generating chemical residue, and requires additional processes (such as drying and waste disposal). Meanwhile dry-cleaning equipment using a plasma has disadvantages in that can cause damage to the workpiece and requires additional components (such as a vacuum chamber).

To meet these challenges, USHIO has developed the CHIPs nano-imprint VUV ashing system by applying and optimizing its lighting-edge technologies to NIL in order to achieve non-contact and damage-free high cleaning power using VUV light. In addition, CHIPs can be incorporated into the NIL equipment to allow a reduction in NIL equipment downtime as well as automation of the NIL process, thus enhancing productivity and yield and lowering the NIL process’ cost of ownership (CoO).

USHIO will exhibit and participate in the SPIE Advanced Lithography 2011 conference at the San Jose Convention Center and San Jose Marriot (Headquarters Hotel) on 27 February to 3 March.

Tags: USHIO America Nano-imprint lithography

Visit: www.ushio.com

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