Of all candidate 193 nm photoresist binder resins, transition metal catalyzed vinyl addition cyclic olefin (i.e., norbornene) polymers (PCO) hold the promise of high transparency and excellent etch resistance. In order to access lower molecular weight polymers, which are typically used in photoresists, α-olefin chain transfer agents (CTAs) are used in synthesizing vinyl addition poly(norbornenes). For example, HFANB (α,α-bis(trifluoromethyl)bicyclo
[2.2.1]hept-5-ene-2-ethanol) homopolymers (p(HFANB)) with molecular weights (Mn) less than 5000 have been synthesized using such chain transfer agents. However, the optical density (OD) at 193 nm of these materials was found to rise as their molecular weights decreased consistent with a polymer end group effect. Extensive NMR and MS analysis of these polymers revealed that olefinic end groups derived from the chain transfer agent were responsible for the deleterious rise in OD. Chemical modification of these end groups by epoxidation, hydrogenation, hydrosilation, etc. lowers the OD of the polymer by removing the olefinic chromophore, however, it does require a second synthetic step. Thus a new class of non-olefinic chain transfer agents has been developed at Promerus that allow for excellent control of vinyl addition cyclic olefin polymer molecular weight and low optical density without the need of a post-polymerization chemical modification. Low molecular weight homopolymers of HFANB have been synthesized using these chain transfer agents that exhibit ODs ≤ 0.07 absorbance units per micron. This molecular weight control technology has been applied to both positive tone and negative tone vinyl addition cyclic olefin binder resins. Lithographic and etch performance of positive tone photoresists based on these binder resins will be presented.