Manufacturing at the 7nm node and beyond enabled by novel resist technology

Lead Research Organisation: University of Manchester
Department Name: Chemistry


The modern world is dependent on electronic devices such as mobile phones and laptop computers and tablets. The computing power of such devices has increased exponentially because the electronics industry has been able to reduce the size of components by a factor of two every two years since the late 1950s. In the near future the key components - field-effect transistors (FETs) - will be at the 7 nm node and later they will be still smaller. The electronics industry is introducing extreme UV lithography to write such nanoscale FETS. This produces multiple challenges that are addressed in this proposal.

A key factor in manufacturing FETs is the resist material into which the pattern is written before it is transferred into silicon. We have developed a new family of resist materials which give excellent resolution, and that are world leading in their aspect ratios (i.e. how high a feature can be against its width) and line edge roughness. They have unique etch performance which enables us to write thin deep structures into silicon and into other materials. Here we will exploit the unique characteristics to make key structures that will be used in future electronic devices. These include: masks through which extreme UV radiation will be used to write devices using lithography; heat sinks which are needed to dissipate heat generated by very tall thin FETs; improved electron emitters to increase the brightness of electron-beam writes. We will further engineer our resists to increase sensitivity and meet future industry targets for write speed while maintaining high resolution structures. A world leading team of chemists, physicists, engineers and material scientists has been assembled and the outcome will be multiple breakthroughs that will enable manufacturing at the 7 nm node and beyond.

Planned Impact

We envisage three impact areas for this research.

Economic. The work proposed is of direct relevance to industry and involves two existing SMEs in the north of England. One - York Probe Sources - is already a successful supplier of equipment to users of electron microscopes and other technology based on electron emitters. We will work closely with YPS during the project and the impact will be to give them an extended lead of their competitors in producing very bright electron sources. This will have a direct impact on their economic success. As an action we will carry out joint research with YPS and hold regular meetings to ensure the results can be transferred quickly into the market place.

The second SME is a spin-out from the University of Manchester - Sci-Tron - and involves the PI and two Co-Is. This spinout is commercialising the resist materials that form the basis of this proposal, and clearly a direct demonstration of their utility in advanced applications will help commercialisation immensely. We will advertise such breakthroughs.

YPS and Sci-Tron will together visit major trade fairs and conferences during the project, targeting commercial users of technology.

A much bigger economic impact is also envisaged. EUV lithography and manufacturing at the 7 nm still presents many challenges to the electronics industry (worth > 5 billion dollars worldwide). In WP1 and WP2 of the proposal we solve two key problems: fabrication of EUV masks and fabrication heat sinks in an economically viable fashion. We are already in discussion with one very large manufacturer who have very strong links to the Kavli Nanoscience Institute. As an action we will continue to build on established links and will present our finished results, expecting them to be adopted by the industry or to be developed further in a joint partnership.

We will work on scale-up during the project, and may involve a local SME experienced in supplying the electronics industry. We have begun discussions with this SME, and will continue such discussions throughout the project and specifically at key points when we achieve major breakthroughs. We are also in discussion with a major Japanese chemical company in a closely related area and intend to visit them during the project to pitch our resist portfolio.

Societal. This is an area that is comparatively easily understood in society, as everyone now uses a mobile phone or tablet. Therefore we plan to reach the public to explain what it is we do in two distinct ways. Firstly, the School of Chemistry at Manchester has been filming videos intended for youtube, which highlight major advances in science achieved in our School. We have already filmed one such video for our joint paper with CalTech which will appear in September 2017. We will continue to film similar videos as we believe this is by far the most efficient method to reach the general public. Secondly, we will establish an exhibit that can be used at science fairs and for school visits. This will be done in collaboration with our CDT in Nanoscience - NowNANO-graphene, which has a strong record in this area. Our plan is to create a model of the lithography process to illustrate, especially to school children, what the criteria are for a "good" resist material, i.e. you can cut it in straight lines, it doesn't bend or collapse.

The third impact will be on the PDRAs we hire. They will work at three crucial interfaces simultaneously. Firstly, scientifically at the boundary between physics, electronics and materials chemistry - this is a strongly interdisciplinary proposal. Secondly, at a boundary between academics, SMEs and massive international manufacturers such as Intel. Thirdly, across international boundaries, working with a world-leading US group (and at that laboratory) which will give them an insight into how other countries pursue research. We believe the project will have massive impact on the careers of these PDRAs.
Description We find we can manufacture down to < 10 nm using the new resists developed in Manchester. This is best achieved using helium ion beam lithography.
Exploitation Route We are looking to commercialise our work on resists and are in discussion with chemical manufacturers to license the technology.
Sectors Chemicals,Electronics