The main target of the current work was to develop new sensitive polymeric materials for lithographic applications, focusing in particular to EUV lithography, the main chain of which is cleaved under the influence of photogenerated acid. Resist materials based on the cleavage of polymer main chain are in principle capable to create very small structures, to the dimensions of the monomers that they consist of. Nevertheless, in the case of the commonly used nonchemically amplified materials of this type issues like sensitivity and poor etch resistance limit their areas of application, whereas inadequate etch resistance and non- satisfactory process reliability are the usual problems encountered in acid catalysed materials based on main chain scission. In our material design the acid catalyzed chain cleavable polymers contain very sensitive moieties in their backbone while they remain intact in alkaline ambient. These newly synthesized polymers bear in addition suitable functional groups for the achievement of desirable lithographic characteristics (thermal stability, acceptable glass transition temperature, etch resistance, proper dissolution behavior, adhesion to the substrate). Our approach for achieving acceptable etch resistance, a main drawback in other main chain cleavable resists, is based on the introduction of polyaromatic hydrocarbons in the polymeric backbone, whereas the incorporation of an inorganic component further enhances the etch resistance. Single component systems can also be designed following the proposed approach by the incorporation of suitable PAGs and base quencher molecules in the main chain. Resist formulations based on a random copolymer designed according to the described rules evaluated in EUV exhibit ultrahigh sensitivity, capability for high resolution patterning and overall processing characteristics that make them strong candidates for industrial use upon further optimization.
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