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Publication numberUS20040065252 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 10/264,926
Publication date8 Apr 2004
Filing date4 Oct 2002
Priority date4 Oct 2002
Also published asUS8066930, US20100181289
Publication number10264926, 264926, US 2004/0065252 A1, US 2004/065252 A1, US 20040065252 A1, US 20040065252A1, US 2004065252 A1, US 2004065252A1, US-A1-20040065252, US-A1-2004065252, US2004/0065252A1, US2004/065252A1, US20040065252 A1, US20040065252A1, US2004065252 A1, US2004065252A1
InventorsSidlgata Sreenivasan, Michael Watts
Original AssigneeSreenivasan Sidlgata V., Watts Michael P.C.
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Method of forming a layer on a substrate to facilitate fabrication of metrology standards
US 20040065252 A1
Abstract
The present invention is directed to a method of forming a layer on a solidified portion of a substrate that facilitates fabrication of metrology standards. The method features defining a planarity of the layer, which is formed by creating a flowable region on the solidified portion of the substrate, as a function of the volume of the flowable material in the region. Recognizing that the topology of a substrate upon which the layer is formed is not planar, on the nano-scale, the present invention is directed to fabricating high resolution features on the substrate and transferring the features into a solidified region of the substrate. Specifically, by minimization of the layer thickness while maximizing the planarity of the interface of the layer with the solidified portion of the substrate, it was found that very small features may be precisely and repeatably formed in the substrate.
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Claims(20)
What is claimed is:
1. A method of forming a layer on a substrate to facilitate fabrication of metrology standards, said method comprising:
creating a flowable region on said substrate, defining a fluid state, with said flowable region having a volume associated therewith; and
defining a layer over an area of said region having opposed sides, one of which faces said substrate, defining an interface, with said opposed side facing away from said substrate, said layer having a thickness measured between said opposed sides, with said volume being selected to maximize a planarity of said interface over said area.
2. The method as recited in claim 1 wherein said thickness is selected to minimize visco-elastic properties of in said flowable region liquid in said layer.
3. The method as recited in claim 2 wherein said thickness is no less than 10 nano-meters.
4. The method as recited in claim 1 further including solidifying said region, defining a solidified state, with said flowable region consisting of material to minimize dimensional changes of said material when transitioning between said liquid and solidified states.
5. The method as recited in claim 1 wherein creating further includes depositing, upon said substrate, a bead of polymerizable material and defining further includes contacting said liquid bead with a mold having a relief structure on a surface thereof to create a recess in said side facing away from said substrate and subjecting said layer to conditions to polymerize said polymerizable material, forming a polymerized layer.
6. The method as recited in claim 5 wherein contacting further includes contacting said liquid with said mold having a plurality of relief structures formed from multiple recessions and protrusions formed into said surface to create a plurality of said recess on said side facing away from said substrate, with said multiple recessions and protrusions arranged to provide said surface with a substantially uniform fill factor.
7. The method as recited in claim 5 wherein contacting further includes contacting said liquid with said mold having a plurality of periodic relief structures formed from multiple recessions and protrusions formed into said surface.
8. The method as recited in claim 5 wherein contacting further includes contacting said liquid with said mold with minimal force to achieve spreading primarily through capillary action of said liquid with said surface.
9. The method as recited in claim 5 wherein said substrate has a crystalline structure and said recess has a nadir and further including etching said layer and said substrate to form a via in said region of said substrate in superimposition with said nadir, with said via having walls that extend transversely to said nadir and parallel to a 110 plane of said crystalline structure.
10. A method of forming a layer on a substrate to facilitate fabrication of metrology standards, said method comprising:
depositing a bead of liquid upon said substrate, with said bead having a volume associated therewith; and
spreading said bead over an area of said substrate to define a layer having first and second opposed sides, which is in a liquid state, with said first side facing said substrate and having a planarity associated therewith, with said second side facing away from said substrate, said layer having a minimum thickness measured between said first and second sides, with said planarity, for said minimum thickness, being defined by said volume, and said minimum thickness selected to reduce visco-elastic properties of said liquid in said layer.
11. The method as recited in claim 10 including solidifying said layer, defining a solidified state, with said layer consisting of material to minimize dimensional changes of said material when transitioning between said liquid and solidified states.
12. The method as recited in claim 11 wherein said bead of viscous liquid is a polymerizable material and spreading further includes contacting said liquid bead with a mold having a plurality of relief structures defined by multiple recessions and protrusions, formed into a surface of said mold, to create a plurality of recesses on said second side, with said multiple recessions and protrusions arranged to provide said surface with a substantially uniform fill factor, and subjecting said layer to conditions to polymerize said polymerizable material, forming a polymerized layer.
13. The method as recited in claim 12 further including arranging said plurality of relief structures on said mold to be periodic.
14. The method as recited in claim 13 wherein contacting further includes contacting said liquid with said mold with minimal force to achieve spreading primarily through capillary action of said liquid with said surface.
15. The method as recited in claim 14 wherein said substrate has a crystalline structure and said recess has a nadir and further including etching said layer and said substrate to form a via in a region of said substrate in superimposition with said nadir, with said via having walls that extend transversely to said nadir and parallel to a 110 plane of said crystalline structure.
16. A method for forming a layer on a substrate to facilitate fabrication of metrology standards, said method comprising:
depositing a bead of polymerizable viscous liquid upon said substrate, with said bead having a volume associated therewith;
spreading said bead over an area of said substrate by contacting said bead with a mold having a plurality of relief structures defined by multiple recessions and protrusions, formed into a surface of said mold, to define a layer having first and second opposed sides, with said first side facing said substrate and having a planarity associated therewith and said second side facing away from said substrate and having a plurality of recesses therein, each of which has a nadir, said layer having a thickness measured between said first side and a plane coplanar with each of the nadirs associated with said plurality of recesses, with said planarity being defined by said volume; and
subjecting said layer to conditions to polymerize said polymerizable material, forming a polymerized layer.
17. The method as recited in claim 16 wherein said thickness is selected to minimize visco-elastic properties of said liquid in said layer.
18. The method as recited in claim 16 wherein said multiple recessions and protrusions are arranged to provide said surface with a substantially uniform fill factor and further including placing silicon nano-balls into said viscous liquid.
19. The method as recited in claim 16 wherein contacting further includes contacting said bead with said mold with a requisite force to achieve spreading primarily through capillary action of said liquid with said surface.
20. The method as recited in claim 16 wherein said substrate has a crystalline structure and further including etching said layer and said substrate to form a via in regions of said substrate in superimposition with the nadir of each of said plurality of recesses, with said via having walls that extend transversely to said nadir and parallel to a 110 plane of said crystalline structure.
Description

[0001] The field of invention relates generally to imprint lithography. More particularly, the present invention is directed to forming layers on a substrate to facilitate fabrication of high resolution patterning features suited for use as metrology standards.

[0002] Metrology standards are employed in many industries to measure the operation of varying equipment and processes. For semiconductor processes, a typical metrology standard may include grating structures, L-shaped structures and other common patterning geometries found on production devices. In this manner, the metrology standards facilitate measurement of the performance of the processing equipment.

[0003] Conventional metrology standards are manufactured from a variety of conventional processes, such as e-beam lithography, optical lithography, and using various materials. Exemplary materials include insulative, conductive or semiconductive materials. After formation of the metrology standards using conventional processes, a post process characterization technique is employed to measure the accuracy of the metrology features. This is due, in part, to the difficulty in repeatably producing reliable accurate metrology standards. A drawback with the conventional processes for manufacturing metrology standards is that the post process characterization step is time consuming. In addition, the difficulty in repeatably producing reliable metrology standards results in a low yield rate. A processing technique that may prove beneficial in overcoming the drawbacks of the conventional processes for fabricating metrology standards is known as imprint lithography.

[0004] An exemplary imprint lithography process is disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 6,334,960 to Willson et al. Willson et al. disclose a method of forming a relief image in a structure. The method includes providing a substrate having a planarization layer. The planarization layer is covered with a polymerizable fluid composition. A mold makes mechanical contact with the polymerizable fluid. The mold includes a relief structure, and the polymerizable fluid composition fills the relief structure. The polymerizable fluid composition is then subjected to conditions to solidify and polymerize the same, forming a solidified polymeric material on the planarization layer that contains a relief structure complimentary to that of the mold. The mold is then separated from the solid polymeric material such that a replica of the relief structure in the mold is formed in the solidified polymeric material. The planarization layer and the solidified polymeric material are subjected to an environment to selectively etch the planarization layer relative to the solidified polymeric material such that a relief image is formed in the planarization layer. Advantages with this imprint lithography process are that it affords fabrication of structures with minimum feature dimensions that are far smaller than is provided employing standard semiconductor process techniques.

[0005] It is desired, therefore, to provide a method for reliably producing precision features on a substrate for use as metrology standards.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0006] The present invention is directed to a method of forming a layer on a solidified portion of a substrate that facilitates fabrication of metrology standards. The method features defining a planarity of the layer, which is formed by creating a flowable region on the solidified portion of the substrate, as a function of the volume of the flowable material in the region. Recognizing that the topology of a substrate upon which the layer is formed is not planar, on the nano-scale, the present invention is directed to fabricating high resolution features on the substrate and transferring the features into a solidified region of the substrate. Specifically, by minimization of the layer thickness while maximizing the planarity of the interface of the layer with the solidified portion of the substrate, it was found that very small features may be precisely and repeatably formed in the substrate. To that end, the method includes creating a flowable region on the substrate. The flowable region has a volume associated therewith. Thereafter, a layer is defined in the flowable region to have opposed sides and an area associated therewith. One of the opposed sides faces the substrate, defining an interface thereat. The remaining side faces away from the substrate, and the layer has a thickness measured between the opposed sides. The volume is selected to maximize the planarity of the interface over the area. Specifically, for a given layer thickness, e.g., 10 nanometers, the volume of the flowable region determines the area of the substrate to be covered by the layer that maximizes the planarity of the interface.

[0007] In another embodiment, the flowable region is formed from a bead of polymerizable liquid to form the layer using imprint lithography. To that end, another method in accordance with the present invention includes depositing a bead of polymerizable liquid upon the substrate. The bead has a volume associated therewith and is spread over an area of the substrate by contacting the bead with a mold. The mold has a plurality of relief structures, defined by multiple recessions and protrusions, formed into the mold surface. The contact with the mold defines a layer having first and second opposed sides. The first side faces the substrate and has a planarity associated therewith. The second side faces away from the substrate and has a plurality of recesses therein. Each of the recesses has a nadir. The thickness of the layer is measured between the first side and a plane that is coplanar with each nadir associated with the plurality of recesses. The planarity is defined by the volume. Thereafter, the layer is subjected to conditions to polymerize the polymerizable material, forming a polymerized layer. Thereafter, subsequent processes, such as etching may or may not occur. These and other embodiments are described more fully below.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0008]FIG. 1 is a simplified elevation view of a lithographic system in accordance with the present invention;

[0009]FIG. 2 is a simplified representation of material from which an imprinting layer, shown in FIG. 1, is comprised before being polymerized and cross-linked;

[0010]FIG. 3 is a simplified representation of cross-linked polymer material into which the material shown in FIG. 2 is transformed after being subjected to radiation;

[0011]FIG. 4 is a simplified elevation view of the mold spaced-apart from the imprinting layer, shown in FIG. 1, after patterning of the imprinting layer;

[0012]FIG. 5 is a detailed view of the imprinting layer shown in FIG. 4 demonstrating the non-planarity of substrate;

[0013]FIG. 6 is a detailed view of the imprinting layer shown in FIG. 5 showing the transfer of the features in the imprinting layer into the substrate during an etching process;

[0014]FIG. 7 is a detailed view of the substrate shown in FIG. 6 after completion of the etch process that transfers features of the imprinting layer into the substrate;

[0015]FIG. 8 is a perspective view of the substrate shown in FIGS. 1-7;

[0016]FIG. 9 is a detailed view of a mold shown in FIG. 1, in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention;

[0017]FIG. 10 is a detailed view of the imprinting layer shown in FIG. 4 using a planarization layer to overcome the non-planarity of the substrate, in accordance with a second embodiment of the present invention;

[0018]FIG. 11 is plan view of the substrate shown in FIG. 10, with a patterned imprinting layer being present; and

[0019]FIG. 12 is a plan view of the substrate shown in FIG. 11 after etching of the pattern into planarization layer.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

[0020] Referring to FIG. 1, a lithographic system in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention includes a substrate 10, having a substantially planar region shown as surface 12. Disposed opposite substrate 10 is an imprint device, such as a mold 14, having a plurality of features thereon, forming a plurality of spaced-apart recessions 16 and protrusions 18. In the present embodiment, recessions 16 are a plurality of grooves extending along a direction parallel to protrusions 18 that provide a cross-section of mold 14 with a shape of a battlement. However, recessions 16 may correspond to virtually any feature required to create an integrated circuit. A translation device 20 is connected between mold 14 and substrate 10 to vary a distance d between mold 14 and substrate 10. A radiation source 22 is located so that mold 14 is positioned between radiation source 22 and substrate 10. Radiation source 22 is configured to impinge radiation on substrate 10. To realize this, mold 14 is fabricated from material that allows it to be substantially transparent to the radiation produced by radiation source 22.

[0021] Referring to both FIGS. 1 and 2, a flowable region, such as an imprinting layer 24, is disposed formed on surface 12. Flowable region may be formed using any known technique such as a hot embossing process disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 5,772,905, which is incorporated by reference in its entirety herein, or a laser assisted direct imprinting (LADI) process of the type described by Chou et al. in Ultrafast and Direct Imprint of Nanostructures in Silicon, Nature, Col. 417, pp. 835-837, June 2002. In the present embodiment, however, flowable region is formed using imprint lithography. Specifically, flowable region consists of imprinting layer 24 deposited as a plurality of spaced-apart discrete beads 25 of material 25 a on substrate 10, discussed more fully below. Imprinting layer 24 is formed from a material 25 a that may be selectively polymerized and cross-linked to record a desired pattern. Material 25 a is shown in FIG. 3 as being cross-linked at points 25 b, forming cross-linked polymer material 25 c.

[0022] Referring to FIGS. 1, 2 and 4, the pattern recorded by imprinting layer 24 is produced, in part, by mechanical contact with mold 14. To that end, translation device 20 reduces the distance d to allow imprinting layer 24 to come into mechanical contact with mold 14, spreading beads 25 so as to form imprinting layer 24 with a contiguous formation of material 25 a over surface 12. In one embodiment, distance d is reduced to allow sub-portions 24 a of imprinting layer 24 to ingress into and fill recessions 16.

[0023] To facilitate filling of recessions 16, material 25 a is provided with the requisite properties to completely fill recessions while covering surface 12 with a contiguous formation of material 25 a. In the present embodiment, sub-portions 24 a of imprinting layer 24 in superimposition with protrusions 18 remain after the desired, usually minimum distance d, has been reached, leaving sub-portions 24 a with a thickness t1, and sub-portions 24 b with a thickness, t2. Thicknesses t1 and t2 may be any thickness desired, dependent upon the application. Typically, t1, is selected so as to be no greater than twice width u of sub-portions 24 a, i.e., t1≦2u.

[0024] Referring to FIGS. 1, 2 and 3, after a desired distance d has been reached, radiation source 22 produces actinic radiation that polymerizes and cross-links material 25 a, forming cross-linked polymer material 25 c. As a result, the composition of imprinting layer 24 transforms from material 25 a to material 25 c, which is a solid. Specifically, material 25 c is solidified to provide side 24 c of imprinting layer 24 with a shape conforming to a shape of a surface 14 a of mold 14, shown more clearly in FIG. 4.

[0025] Referring to FIGS. 1, 2 and 3 an exemplary radiation source 22 may produce ultraviolet radiation. Other radiation sources may be employed, such as thermal, electromagnetic and the like. The selection of radiation employed to initiate the polymerization of the material in imprinting layer 24 is known to one skilled in the art and typically depends on the specific application which is desired. After imprinting layer 24 is transformed to consist of material 25 c, translation device 20 increases the distance d so that mold 14 and imprinting layer 24 are spaced-apart.

[0026] Referring to FIG. 4, additional processing may be employed to complete the patterning of substrate 10. For example, substrate 10 and imprinting layer 24 may be etched to increase the aspect ratio of recesses 30 in imprinting layer 24. To facilitate etching, the material from which imprinting layer 24 is formed may be varied to define a relative etch rate with respect to substrate 10, as desired. The relative etch rate of imprinting layer 24 to substrate 10 may be in a range of about 1.5:1 to about 100:1. Alternatively, or in addition to, imprinting layer 24 may be provided with an etch differential with respect to photo-resist material (not shown) selectively disposed on side 24 c. The photoresist material (not shown) may be provided to further pattern imprinting layer 24, using known techniques. Any etch process may be employed, dependent upon the etch rate desired and the underlying constituents that form substrate 10 and imprinting layer 24. Exemplary etch processes may include plasma etching, reactive ion etching, chemical wet etching and the like.

[0027] Referring to FIG. 5, a problem addressed by the present invention concerns formation of features on substrates having extreme topologies when compared to the dimensions of features formed thereon. As a result, substrate 10 appears to present a non-planar surface 12. This has been traditionally found in substrates formed from gallium arsenide (GAs) or indium phosphide (InP). However, as the feature dimensions decrease substrates that have historically been considered planar may present a non-planar surface to features formed thereon. For example, substrate 10 is shown with variations in surface height. The variation in height frustrates attempts to control the dimensions of features formed into substrate 10, because of the resulting differences in distances between nadirs 130 a and 160 a from surface 12, shown as h1 and h2, respectively. The height differential, Δh, between surface nadir 130 a and nadir 160 a is defined as follows:

Δh=|h 1 −h 2|  (1)

[0028] Height differential, Δh, results in differing etch characteristics of vias formed into substrate 10, discussed more fully below with respect to FIGS. 6 and 7.

[0029] Referring to FIGS. 5, 6 and 7, transfer of the features, such as recesses 131, 141, 151, 161 and subportions 24 a, in imprinting layer 24 into substrate 10 occurs through etch processes. The height differential, Δh, results during formation of via 261 in substrate 10 before formation of the remaining vias, which will be formed in regions of substrate 10 in superimposition with recesses 131, 141 and 151. This results from the time during which substrate 10 is etched during formation of vias. Specifically, nadir 160 a reaches surface 12 of substrate 10 before the remaining nadirs 130 a, 140 a and 150 a. As a result an etch differential occurs, i.e., the etch process to which substrate 10 is exposed to form vias therein differs over substrate surface 12. The etch differential is problematic, because it results in anisotropic etching that distorts the features transferred into substrate 10 from imprinting layer 24. The distortion presents, inter alia, by variations in width w3 between vias 231, 241, 251 and 261 formed into substrate 10.

[0030] Ideally, the width of recesses 131, 141, 151 and 161, w1, should be substantially similar to width w3. However the height differential, Δh, results in w3 of vias 251 and 261 being greater than w1, as well as larger than w3 of vias 231 and 241. The difference between the widths w3 of vias 231, 241, 251 and 261 defines a differential width Δw. The greater the height differential, Δh, the greater the differential width Δw. As a result Δw of via 231 and 261 is greater than Δw of vias 231 and 251.

[0031] Referring to both FIGS. 4, 6, 7 and 8, to avoid these drawbacks, the present invention seeks to minimize the height differential Δh by minimizing layer thickness t2 and selecting a region of substrate 10 upon which to locate and define area, A, so as to maximize the planarity of area A. Optimized production yield favors maximization of area A. However, it was determined that the smaller area, A, is made, the greater the planarity of substrate surface 12 in area, A. In short, minimization of area, A, maximizes the planarity of the same. Thus, attempts to obtain large production yields, appears to be in conflict with maximizing the planarity of area, A, because maximizing the area A reduces the planarity of surface 12 associated with area, A.

[0032] The manufacture of metrology standards, however, does not require large yields. Therefore, in the present embodiment of the invention, the location and size of area, A, is chosen to maximize the planarity of surface 12 in area, A of surface 12 over which vias 231, 241, 251 and 261 are formed. It is believed that by appropriately selecting area, A, over which vias 231, 241, 251 and 261 are formed, it will be possible to deposit an imprinting layer 24 of sufficiently small thickness t2 while minimizing height differential Δh, if not abrogating the height differential Δh entirely. This provides greater control over the dimensions of recesses 131, 141, 151 and 161, that may be subsequently formed into imprinting layer 24, thereby affording the fabrication of features on the order of a few nanometers.

[0033] Referring to FIGS. 1, 4 and 8, to that end, the minimum layer thickness was chosen to avoid visco-elastic behavior of the liquid in beads 25. It is believed that visco-elastic behavior makes difficult controlling the imprinting process. For example, the visco-elastic behavior defines a minimum thickness that layer 24 may reach, after which fluid properties, such as flow, cease. This may present by bulges in nadirs 130 a, 140 a, 150 a and 160 a as well as other problematic characteristics. In the present embodiment it was determined that providing imprinting layer 24 with a minimum thickness t2 of no less than approximately 10 nanometers satisfied this criteria, i.e., it was the minimum thickness that could be achieved while preventing imprinting layer 24 from demonstrating visco-elastic behavior. Assuming a uniform thickness, t2, over layer 24, e.g., sub-portions 24 a and recesses 131, 141, 151 and 161 not being present so that side 24 c is planar it was determined that the volume of liquid in beads 25 may define the planarity of side 24 d that forms an interface with surface 12 and is disposed opposite to side 24 c. The volume is typically selected to maximize the planarity of side 24 d, which forms an interface with surface 12. With a priori knowledge of the topology of surface 12, the size and locus of area, A, may be chosen to maximize planarity over area A. Knowing A and the desired layer thickness t2, the volume, V, may be derived from the following relationship:

V=At2  (2)

[0034] However, with the presence of features, such as sub-portions 24 a and recesses 131, 141, 151 and 161, results in layer 24 having a varying thickness over area, A. Thus, equation (2) is modified to take into consideration volumetric changes required due to the varying thickness of layer 24 over area, A. Specifically, the volume, V, is chosen so as to minimize thickness t2, while avoiding visco-elastic behavior and providing the requisite quantity of liquid to include features, such as sub-portions 24 a of thickness t1, and recess 131, 141, 151 and 161 into layer 24. As a result, in accordance with this embodiment of the invention, the volume, V, of liquid in beads 25 may be defined as follows:

V=A(t 2 +ft 1)  (3)

[0035] where f is the fill factor and A, t2 and t1 are as defined above.

[0036] Referring to FIGS. 1, 4, 7, 8 and 9, further control of the dimensions of features formed into substrate 10 may be achieved by proper placement and selection of recessions 16 and protrusions 18 over surface 14 a. Specifically, the arrangement of recessions 16 and protrusions 18 on mold 14 may be designed to define a uniform fill factor over mold surface 14 a. As a result, the size of etch areas will be substantially equal to the size of non-etch areas of substrate 10 in area A, where features on mold surface 14 a are imprinted. This arrangement of features reduces, if not avoids, variations in imprinting layer 24 thickness by minimizing pattern density variations. By avoiding thickness variations in imprinting layer 24, distortions caused by the transfer of features into substrate 10 during etch processes are reduced, if not avoided. Additional control can be obtained by having the recessions 16 and protrusions 18 formed to be periodic over surface 14 a of mold 14. As a result, the features transferred to imprinting layer 24 and subsequently etched into area A, i.e., vias 231, 241, 251 and 261, fully populate and are periodic in area A.

[0037] It should be noted that mold surface 14 a may be formed with uniform period features having common shapes, as well as having differing shapes, as shown. Further, recessions 16 and protrusions 18 may be arranged on mold 14 to form virtually any desired geometric pattern. Exemplary patterns include a series of linear grooves/projections 80, a series of L-Shaped grooves/projections 82, a series of intersecting grooves/projections defining a matrix 84, and a series of arcuate grooves/projections 86. Additionally, pillars 88 may project from mold 14 and have any cross-sectional shape desired, e.g., circular, polygonal etc.

[0038] Additionally, it is desired not to employ features as part of the metrology standards that are located proximate to the edge of imprinting layer 24 and, therefore, area A. These features become distorted when transferred into substrate 10 during etching. The distortion is produced by edge-effects due to microloading, thereby exacerbating control of the feature dimensions.

[0039] Referring to FIGS. 7 and 8, in another embodiment of the present invention, further control of formation of vias 231, 241, 251 and 261 may be achieved by orientating the lattice structure of substrate 10 to ensure that sidewalls 231 a, 241 a, 251 a and 261 a are orientated to be substantially parallel to one of the crystal planes of the material from which the substrate 10 is formed. For example, substrate 10 may be fabricated so that the sidewalls 231 a, 241 a, 251 a and 261 a extend parallel to either of the 100, 010 or the 110 planes. This facilitates more precise control of the width w3 of vias 231, 241, 251 and 261 in furtherance of uniformity of the same among all features formed in area A, particularly when features of imprinting layer 24 are transferred into substrate 10 using wet etch chemistries.

[0040] Referring to FIG. 1 in accordance with another embodiment of the present invention, to further provide greater control of the feature dimensions in imprinting layers 24, it has been found that the force {overscore (F)} applied by mold 14 should be deminimis and only sufficient magnitude to facilitate contact with beads 25. The spreading of liquid in beads 25 should be attributable primarily through capillary action with mold surface 14 a.

[0041] Referring to FIGS. 1, 2 and 4, the characteristics of material 25 a are important to efficiently pattern substrate 10 in light of the unique deposition process that is in accordance with the present invention. As mentioned above, material 25 a is deposited on substrate 10 as a plurality of discrete and spaced-apart beads 25. The combined volume of beads 25 is such that the material 25 a is distributed appropriately over area of surface 12 where imprinting layer 24 is to be formed. As a result, imprinting layer 24 is spread and patterned concurrently, with the pattern being subsequently set by exposure to radiation, such as ultraviolet radiation. It is desired, therefore, that material 25 a has certain characteristics to facilitate even spreading of material 25 a in beads 25 over surface 12 so that the all thicknesses t1 are substantially uniform and all thickness t2 are substantially uniform and all widths, w1, are substantially uniform. The desirable characteristics include having a suitable viscosity to demonstrate satisfaction with these characteristics, as well as the ability to wet surface of substrate 10 and avoid subsequent pit or hole formation after polymerization. To that end, in one example, the wettability of imprinting layer 24, as defined by the contact angle method, should be such that the angle, θ1, is defined as follows:

0>θ1<75  (4)

[0042] With these two characteristics being satisfied, imprinting layer 24 may be made sufficiently thin while avoiding formation of pits or holes in the thinner regions of imprinting layer 24.

[0043] Referring to FIGS. 2, 3, 4 and 5, another desirable characteristic that it is desired for material 25 a to possess is thermal stability such that the variation in an angle Φ, measured between a nadir 30 a of a recess 30 and a sidewall 30 b thereof, does not vary more than 10% after being heated to 75 C. for thirty (30) minutes. Additionally, material 25 a should transform to material 25 c, i.e., polymerize and cross-link, when subjected to a pulse of radiation containing less than 5 J cm−2. In the present example, polymerization and cross-linking was determined by analyzing the infrared absorption of the C═C bond contained in material 25 a. Additionally, it is desired that substrate surface 12 be relatively inert toward material 25 a, such that less than 500 nm of surface 12 be dissolved as a result sixty (60) seconds of contact with material 25 a. It is further desired that the wetting of mold 14 by imprinting layer 24 be minimized, i.e., wetting angle, θ2, be should be of requisite magnitude. To that end, the wetting angle, θ2, should be greater than 75.

[0044] The constituent components that form material 25 a to provide the aforementioned characteristics may differ. This results from substrate 10 being formed from a number of different materials. As a result, the chemical composition of surface 12 varies dependent upon the material from which substrate 10 is formed. For example, substrate 10 may be formed from silicon, plastics, gallium arsenide, mercury telluride, and composites thereof. Additionally, substrate 10 may include one or more layers in region, e.g., dielectric layer, metal layers, semiconductor layer and the like.

[0045] Referring to FIGS. 2 and 3, in one embodiment of the present invention, the constituent components of material 25 a consist of acrylated monomers or methacrylated monomers that are not silyated, a cross-linking agent, and an initiator. The non-silyated acryl or methacryl monomers are selected to provide material 25 a with a minimal viscosity, e.g., viscosity approximating the viscosity of water (1-2 cps) or less. However, it has been determined that the speed of imprinting may be sacrificed in favor of higher accuracy in feature dimensions. As a result, a much higher viscosity material may be employed. As a result the range of viscosity that may be employed is from 1 to 1,000 centipoise or greater. The cross-linking agent is included to cross-link the molecules of the non-silyated monomers, providing material 25 a with the properties to record a pattern thereon having very small feature sizes, on the order of a few nanometers and to provide the aforementioned thermal stability for further processing. To that end, the initiator is provided to produce a free radical reaction in response to radiation, causing the non-silyated monomers and the cross-linking agent to polymerize and cross-link, forming a cross-linked polymer material 25 c. In the present example, a photo-initiator responsive to ultraviolet radiation is employed. In addition, if desired, a silyated monomer may also be included in material 25 a to control the etch rate of the resulting cross-linked polymer material 25 c, without substantially affecting the viscosity of material 25 a.

[0046] Examples of non-silyated monomers include, but are not limited to, butyl acrylate, methyl acrylate, methyl methacrylate, or mixtures thereof. The non-silyated monomer may make up approximately 25% to 60% by weight of material 25 a. It is believed that the monomer provides adhesion to an underlying organic transfer layer, discussed more fully below.

[0047] The cross-linking agent is a monomer that includes two or more polymerizable groups. In one embodiment, polyfunctional siloxane derivatives may be used as a cross-linking agent. An example of a polyfunctional siloxane derivative is 1,3-bis(3-methacryloxypropyl)-tetramethyl disiloxane. Another suitable cross-linking agent consists of ethylene diol diacrylate. The cross-linking agent may be present in material 25 a in amounts of up to 20% by weight, but is more typically present in an amount of 5% to 15% by weight.

[0048] The initiator may be any component that initiates a free radical reaction in response to radiation, produced by radiation source 22, shown in FIG. 1, impinging thereupon and being absorbed thereby. Suitable initiators may include, but are not limited to, photo-initiators such as 1-hydroxycyclohexyl phenyl ketone or phenylbis(2,4,6-trimethyl benzoyl) phosphine oxide. The initiator may be present in material 25 a in amounts of up to 5% by weight, but is typically present in an amount of 1% to 4% by weight.

[0049] Were it desired to include silylated monomers in material 25 a, suitable silylated monomers may include, but are not limited to, silyl-acryloxy and silyl methacryloxy derivatives. Specific examples are methacryloxypropyl tris(tri-methylsiloxy)silane and (3-acryloxypropyl)tris(tri-methoxysiloxy)-silane. Silylated monomers may be present in material 25 a in amounts from 25% to 50% by weight. The curable liquid may also include a dimethyl siloxane derivative. Examples of dimethyl siloxane derivatives include, but are not limited to, (acryloxypropyl) methylsiloxane dimethylsiloxane copolymer.

[0050] Referring to both FIGS. 1 and 2, exemplary compositions for material 25 a are as follows:

COMPOSITION 1 n-butyl acrylate+(3-acryloxypropyltristrimethylsiloxy)silane+1,3bis(3-methacryloxypropyl)tetramethyldisiloxane COMPOSITION 2 t-n-butyl acrylate+(3-acryloxypropyltristrimethylsiloxy)silane+Ethylene diol diacrylate COMPOSITION 3 t-butyl acrylate+methacryloxypropylpentamethyldisiloxane+1,3-bis(3-methacryloxypropyl)tetramethyldisiloxane

[0051] The above-identified compositions also include stabilizers that are well known in the chemical art to increase the operational life, as well as initiators. Further, to reduce distortions in the features of imprinting layer 24 due to shrinkage of material 25 a during curing, e.g., exposure to actinic radiation such as ultraviolet radiation, silicon nano-balls may be added to the material 25 a either before patterning, e.g., before application of beads 25 to surface 12, or after application of beads 25 to surface 12.

[0052] Referring to FIGS. 1, 2 and 3, additionally, to ensure that imprinting layer 24 does not adhere to mold 14, surface 14 a may be treated with a modifying agent. One such modifying agent is a release layer (not shown) formed from a fluorocarbon silylating agent. The release layer and other surface modifying agents, may be applied using any known process. For example, processing techniques that may include chemical vapor deposition method, physical vapor deposition, atomic layer deposition or various other techniques, brazing and the like. In this configuration, imprinting layer 24 is located between substrate 10 and release layer (not shown), during imprint lithography processes.

[0053] Referring to FIGS. 4 and 10, in some cases the non-planar topology of substrate 110 may frustrate deposition of an imprinting layer 24. This may be overcome by the use of a planarization layer 125. Planarization layer 125 functions to present a planar surface 125 a to imprinting layer 124, shown more clearly in FIG. 11.

[0054] Referring to both FIGS. 10 and 11, planarization layer 125 may be formed from a number of differing materials, such as, for example, thermoset polymers, thermoplastic polymers, polyepoxies, polyamides, polyurethanes, polycarbonates, polyesters, and combinations thereof. In the present example, planarization layer 125 is formed from an aromatic material so as to possess a continuous, smooth, relatively defect-free surface that may exhibit excellent adhesion to the imprinting layer 124. Specifically, surface 125 a presents a planar region upon which imprinting layer 124 may be disposed and recesses 331, 341, 351 and 361 are formed.

[0055] Planarization layer 125 may be disposed on substrate 110 using any known deposition technique. In the present example, planarization layer 125 is disposed on substrate 110 using spin-on techniques. However, it was discovered that during etching, that the difference in height between nadirs 330 a and 360 a from surface 112, shown as h3 and h4, respectively, results in differing etch characteristics of vias formed into substrate 110, for the reasons discussed above. The height differential between surface nadir 330 a and nadir 360 a is defined as follows:

Δh′=|h 3 −h 4|  (5)

[0056] Referring to both FIGS. 11 and 12, during the etching process, the features in imprinting layer 124, such as sub-portions 224 a are transferred into both planarization layer 125 and substrate 110, forming sub-portions 225 a. Spaced apart between sub-portions 225 a are vias 431, 441, 451 and 461. Due to height differential Δh′ anisotropic etching occurs that distorts the features transferred into substrate 110 from imprinting layer 124, as discussed above. To avoid the problems presented by the height differential Δh′ the solutions described above may apply with equal weight here. An additional advantage with providing planarization layer 125 is that it may be formulated to compensate for the anisotropicity of the etch that occurs due to the height differential, Δh, defined by equation 1. As a result, planarization layer may be employed to reduce, if not overcome, the deleterious effects of the height differential, Δh, defined by equation 1.

[0057] The embodiments of the present invention described above are exemplary. Many changes and modifications may be made to the disclosure recited above, while remaining within the scope of the invention. For example, as mentioned above, many of the embodiments discussed above may be implemented in existing imprint lithography processes that do not employ formation of an imprinting layer by deposition of beads of polymerizable material. Exemplary processes in which differing embodiments of the present invention may be employed include a hot embossing process disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 5,772,905, which is incorporated by reference in its entirety herein. Additionally, many of the embodiments of the present invention may be employed using a laser assisted direct imprinting (LADI) process of the type described by Chou et al. in Ultrafast and Direct Imprint of Nanostructures in Silicon, Nature, Col. 417, pp. 835-837, June 2002. Therefore, the scope of the invention should be determined not with reference to the above description, but instead should be determined with reference to the appended claims along with their full scope of equivalents.

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Classifications
U.S. Classification117/84
International ClassificationG03F7/00, B29C59/02
Cooperative ClassificationB29C59/02, G03F7/0002, B82Y40/00, B82Y10/00
European ClassificationB82Y10/00, B82Y40/00, B29C59/02, G03F7/00A
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