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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/V055003/1
Title: Beyond direct-write: Dynamically reconfigurable holographic multibeam interference lithography for high-throughput nanomanufacturing
Principal Investigator: Joyce, Dr H J
Other Investigators:
Wilkinson, Professor T Alexander-Webber, Dr J A
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Dr C Williams
Project Partners:
Optalysys Ltd Plessey Semiconductors Ltd VividQ
Department: Engineering
Organisation: University of Cambridge
Scheme: Standard Research
Starts: 01 January 2022 Ends: 31 December 2024 Value (£): 506,444
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Manufacturing Machine & Plant Mathematical Analysis
Optoelect. Devices & Circuits
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
27 Apr 2021 Precision Manufacturing - Full Proposals Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
When manufacturing any kind of electronic device, patterning is required to achieve small features, such as different regions of materials with different functions. The ever-increasing complexity of modern electronics and photonics has led to a plethora of approaches to substrate patterning. For each of these approaches, there are always compromises between the speed of patterning (write speed), the minimum feature size, versatility and cost.

The most dominant patterning process in electronics and photonics manufacturing is mask-based photolithography. Here, the chip to be patterned is coated with a light-sensitive material known as a "resist," and light is shone onto the resist through a mask with deliberately placed holes. Light that passes through the holes causes a chemical change in the resist, and thus the pattern is transferred from the mask onto the chip. The disadvantage is that each photolithography mask is only suitable for a one particular type of chip design and cannot be reconfigured for the manufacture of other chip designs, and mask design and fabrication is time-consuming and costly. Alternative patterning techniques, known as direct-write lithography, do enable great flexibility in device design, but at the expense of slow patterning speeds, and often large capital and operating costs.

Here, we propose a novel process for photolithography, which we name holographic multi-beam interference lithography (HMBIL). HMBIL promises large area patterning with sub-wavelength resolution as well as fast write speeds, short development times, low costs and a dynamically reconfigurable choice of exposure pattern. Using HMBIL, we will demonstrate patterning of arbitrarily-shaped 100 nm feature sizes over large areas with high throughput (>25 cm^2 device area in under 1 hour), which is currently unachievable with direct-write lithography techniques.

As a proof-of-principle, we will demonstrate the capability of HMBIL for manufacturing an example device structure: multispectral filter arrays. These filter arrays, when integrated with an image sensor, will allow the acquisition of light spectra for applications as diverse as medical imaging to remote sensing. HMBIL manufacture of multispectral filter arrays will open up a range of avenues for custom detectors and imaging sensors for security, industrial or medical applications.

We envisage this versatile new HMBIL process primarily in two locations in the manufacturing chain: Firstly, as a means of rapid prototyping of nanofabricated designs and secondly, as a means of large scale production of individually customised components. This will revolutionise manufacturing processes across a broad range of application areas including miniaturised optoelectronics, versatile point-of-care diagnostic devices, displays and image sensors, on-chip photonics (waveguides and photonic crystals), plasmonics, nano/micro-electromechanical machines, microfluidics, embedded systems and the internet of things, and many more.
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