PhD researcher on ultra-thin film photoresist characterization for high resolution in Extreme Ultraviolet Lithography

Leuven - PhD
More than two weeks ago
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The Numerical Aperture (NA) of an optical system is a dimensionless number that characterizes the range of angles over which the system can accept or emit light. Higher NA systems can resolve finer features by condensing light from a wider range of angles. Precisely for the extreme ultraviolet (EUV) lithography technology the continuous efforts on its development has allowed in the last years to move from 0.25NA to 0.33NA pushing the patterning performance of the EUV photoresists even more. Today the 5nm technology node will be the first scaling node at which industry will likely insert EUV into production and now that EUV is finally close to the high-volume-manufacturing (HVM), companies are working on extending it much further using anamorphic lenses and high numerical aperture technology (0.5 NA) that will able to print 8nm half-pitch features in 2020-2023 time frame (

However the high-volume-manufacturing (HVM) requirement to have a cost-effective low exposure dose photoresist (<20mJ/cm2) remains a big challenge since current photoresist platforms are performing with limitations in resolution, line width roughness, stochastics and sensitivity (RLS), therefore further efforts are needed to develop suitable high performing EUV resists.

The project will be focused on the characterization of the physical chemical properties such as atomic, mechanical, electrical, thermal and kinetic/mechanistic properties of thin film EUV materials designed to work under the ionizing EUV radiation. The target resists will be the existing chemically amplified resists and novel concept of resists delivered by material suppliers and/or from research institutes working on the design and synthesis of new EUV resist materials.

Goal of the project is to increase the understanding of the fundamentals in thin resist film (below 30nm) underpinning the innovative nanoscale fabrication in EUVL technology and translate this knowledge into the design of novel “ultra-thin” EUV resists with the required material properties, such that EUVL may be further optimized in performance, with the ultimate goal of extending the  (high-NA) EUV lithography roadmap

You will be trained in commercial and entrepreneurial skills necessary to bring such research from the laboratory to the commercial arena. You will work together with a team of lithography specialists within an international environment using advanced tools at the leading edge technology. You will interact with the resist materials vendors as well as the various university groups working on these materials.

Your experimental work will be carry out in a modern 300 mm semiconductor cleanroom using the lithography clusters to coat and expose silicon wafers and metrology tools for the material characterization. The results of your research will be presented to industrial imec partners and either published at international conferences and/or in peer reviewed journals.

Required background: The topic is best suited for students with a degree in chemistry, nano-technology, materials science with fundamental understanding of soft x-ray physics and light-matter interaction and thin film characterization techniques.

Type of work: 15% training, 15% literature study, 10% simulation work, 60% for preparation and execution of experiments + data analysis.

Supervisor: Stefan De Gendt

Daily advisor: Danilo De Simone

The reference code for this PhD position is STS1712-17. Mention this reference code on your application form.

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