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Nanotechnology. 2009 Jun 24;20(25):255304. doi: 10.1088/0957-4484/20/25/255304. Epub 2009 Jun 2.

Alignment for imprint lithography using nDSE and shallow molds.

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  • 1Hewlett Packard Labs, Palo Alto, CA 94304, USA.


We present a low-cost overlay alignment metrology solution for nanoimprint lithography that uses optical microscopy, displacement-sensing algorithms, and specially-designed imprint molds that include shallow alignment marks that are visible to the optical system but do not pattern the wafer. This innovation reduces measurement distances to near zero, the optimal distance for displacement-sensing algorithms, and allows for alignment marks to occupy the same piece of wafer real estate without interfering in any way, thus saving silicon area. Additionally, the method we present does not require the comparison of alignment marks between the wafer and the mold, thus removing process variations as a variable. We fabricate the shallow-mark molds, show that the shallow alignment marks indeed do not leave a mark on the wafer, and, implementing our nDSE (nanoscale displacement sensing and estimation) techniques, we demonstrate nanoscale alignment to a precision of 35 nm, 1-sigma. Given sufficient engineering refinement, we would fully anticipate achieving alignment errors down to the 1 nm range using these methods.

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