Direct Writing on the Nanoscale

Thermal Scanning Probe Lithography

In Thermal Scanning Probe Lithography (t-SPL), the resist is directly evaporated by an ultra-sharp heated scanning probe tip. The heated tip creates high-resolution nanostructures by local sublimation of resists. That way, complex nanostructures can be written and simultaneously inspected. This approach essentially forms the core of the NanoFrazor operating principle. Standard pattern transfer methods like lift-off or etching then can be applied to the patterned substrates.

This technology first appeared at IBM Research Zurich in the framework of the Millipede memory project, spinning into a new nanofabrication method. The technology is commercially available in the shape of our NanoFrazor systems Scholar and Explore.

The NanoFrazor technology represents an alternative to conventional nanolithography methods. It allows both high-resolution patterning and imaging with a resolution of < 10 nm.  High-speed patterning and imaging (> 1 mm/s scan speed) can also be achieved. It avoids many problems of other nanolithography techniques - no wet development, no proximity effect corrections, no vacuum is required. The compatibility with any standard pattern transfer process and substrate material opens up a wide range of applications.

Highlights of t-SPL:

  • Vertical resolution < 1 nm – enabled by the closed-loop lithography
  • Lateral resolution below 25 nm routinely achieved, record at 8 nm half-pitch
  • Markerless overlay
  • In-situ imaging
  • Versatility: can be used for 2D and 3D nanolithography

Closed-loop lithography

In-situ imaging enables ultra-precise 3D- patterning with vertical resolution under 1 nm.

NanoFrazor technology

An ultra-sharp heatable probe tip is used for writing and simultaneous inspection of complex nanostructures. The heated tip can create complex, high-resolution nanostructures by local sublimation of resists. Standard pattern transfer methods like lift-off or etching can be applied.