Electron beam (e-beam) lithography is a specialized technique for creating the extremely fine patterns required by the modern electronics industry for integrated circuits. These patterns are much smaller than can be seen by the naked eye. The e-beam lithography system is like a high-speed, ultra-high-resolution camera, but instead of exposing photosensitive film to light, a thin layer of electron-sensitive material is exposed to electrons. Rather than using a shutter that imprints the entire image at once, an intense electron beam focused on a tiny spot is rastered over the chip, much like the beam that creates images on a television screen. Just as with photographic film, subsequent processing steps develop the image that was imprinted on the film.
The pros of the technology are that it is capable of very high resolution—almost to the atomic level—and it is a flexible technique that can work with a variety of materials and an almost infinite number of patterns. The cons, however, are that the technology is slow, being considerably slower than optical lithography, and it is expensive and complicated: electron beam lithography tools can cost many millions of dollars and require frequent service to stay properly maintained.
Molecular Imprints (http://rbi.ims.ca/4405-501) of Austin, TX has now developed a machine tool that utilizes a unique Step and Flash Imprint Lithography Technology called S-FIL™ to significantly improve the speed of the micro-lithography process in three dimensions. With this technique, scientists are able to conduct experiments in minutes rather than in days, which is how long traditional e-beam lithography machine tools would take for the same process.
Molecular Imprints' Imprio™ 50 and 55 lithography tools use linear motor servo tables and servo drive/control technology from Parker Hannifin (http://rbi.ims. ca/4405-501). These tools are very fast, accurate, and repeatable systems that reduce the costs associated with the process of imprinting a silicon wafer or chip with sub-100 nm resolutions.
Parker's 404LXR linear motor table offers
high-precision positioning and linear motor dynamics for high-end,
high-throughput applications. It is a plug-and-play module, with easy
The Imprio tools use separate Parker LXR linear motor tables for the machine's X and Y axes. The LXRs are very accurate and repeatable motion tables that perform with extreme straightness and flatness in a clean room environment. The LXRs achieve optimum performance by combining slotless motor technology with performance-matched mechanical elements, amplifiers, control, and feedback devices. The LXRs are coupled with Parker Gemini 6Ks, which combine such compact digital servo drive features as digital tuning and digital notch filters with controller capabilities that include Ethernet connectivity, expandable I/O, multitasking, and enhanced position following.
The Gemini 6K is a compact stand-alone product that
combines the Gemini digital servo drive with Parker's 6K
The resulting Imprio tools deliver very high-resolution capabilities for micro-lithography applications in the marketplace. They allow 3D replication of imprint templates for 2- to 8-inch wafers over a 10 mm × 10 mm print area. In short, all the components and expertise add up to systems made exclusively for extremely small printing with repeatable and consistent results from one imprint to another.
The 3D process is faster than traditional methods. In Addtion, Parker's dependable components, optimization, and premier engineering support have combined to impact the bottom line for Molecular Imprints. It is a successful partnership that has helped to make the Imprio 50 and 55 industry-leading solutions for next-generation lithography systems.