The microchip and nanotech communities have a penchant for roadmaps. Some, like the International Technology Roadmap for Semiconductors, present a grand plan. Others have a narrower focus.
A new roadmap developed by researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology and Sandia National Labs hopes to help nanoimprint
lithographers find their way.
The research team “developed manufacturing design rules that will give future users of this technology a predictive toolkit so they’ll know what to expect over a broad range of parameters,” explains William King, an assistant professor at Georgia Tech. His team checked out every variable involved in the nanoimprinting process, including shear deformation of the polymer, elastic stress release, and capillary and viscous flow during the filling of imprinting tool cavities that had different sizes and shapes. They also noted each incremental change throughout the design space.
Ultimately, the work established specific geometric and other parameters that determine the outcome of the process. For example, the toolkit includes a new “Nanoimprint Capillary Number,” which predicts the flow-driving mechanism that ultimately governs all polymer flow details.
For now, King says, the results apply to polymeric materials that follow standard viscous flow rules and produce feature sizes larger than 50 nm. But the next round of research will aim to modify the simulation software to account for physical changes even farther down the atomic scale.