Deep X-ray lithography on PMMA resist is used in the LIGA process. The resist is exposed to synchrotron X-rays through a patterned mask and then is developed in a liquid developer to make high aspect ratio microstructures. This work addresses the thermal analysis and temperature rise of the mask-resist assembly during exposure at the Advanced Light Source (ALS) synchrotron. The concern is that the thermal expansion will lower the accuracy of the lithography. We have developed a three-dimensional finite-element model of the mask and resist assembly. We employed the LIGA exposure-development software LEX-D and the commercial software ABAQUS to calculate heat transfer of the assembly during exposure. The calculations of assembly maximum temperature have been compared with temperature measurements conducted at ALS. The temperature rise in the silicon mask and the mask holder comes directly from the X-ray absorption, but forced convection of nitrogen jets carry away a significant portion of heat energy from the mask surface, while natural convection plays a negligible role. The temperature rise in PMMA resist is mainly from heat conducted from the silicon substrate backward to the resist and from the mask plate through inner cavity air forward to the resist, while the X-ray absorption is only secondary. Therefore, reduction of heat flow conducted from both substrate and cavity air to the resist is essential. An improved water-cooling block is expected to carry away most heat energy along the main heat conductive path, leaving the resist at a favorable working temperature.
Secondary radiation during LIGA polymethyl-methacrylate (PMMA) resist exposure adversely affects feature definition, sidewall taper, and overall sidewall offset. Additionally, it can degrade the resist adjacent to the substrate, leading to the loss of free-standing features through undercutting during resist development or through mechanical failure of the degraded material. The source of this radiation includes photoelectrons, Auger electrons, fluorescence photons, etc. Sandia's Integrated Tiger Series (ITS), a coupled electron/photon Monte Carlo transport code, is used to compute dose profiles within 1 to 2 µm of the absorber edge and near the interface of the resist with a metallized substrate. The difficulty of submicron resolution requirement was overcome by solving a few local problems, having carefully designed micron-scale geometries. The results for a 10-keV x-ray photons source indicate a 2-µm dose transition region near the absorber edge, resulting from PMMA photoelectrons. This region leads to sidewall offset and to tapered sidewalls following resist development. The results also show a dose boundary layer of around 1 µm near the substrate interface due to electrons emitted from the substrate metallization layer. The maximum dose at the resist bottom under the absorber can be very high and can lead to feature loss during development. This model is also used to investigate resist doses resulting from multilayer substrate.
Secondary radiation during LIGA PMMA resist exposure adversely affects feature definition, sidewall taper and overall sidewall offset. Additionally, it can degrade the resist adjacent to the substrate, leading to the loss of free-standing features through undercutting during resist development or through mechanical failure of the degraded material. The source of this radiation includes photoelectrons, Auger electrons, fluorescence photons, etc. Sandia’s Integrated Tiger Series (ITS), a coupled electron/photon Monte Carlo transport code, was used to compute dose profiles within 1 to 2 microns of the absorber edge and near the interface of the resist with a metallized substrate. The difficulty of sub-micron resolution requirement was overcome by solving a few local problems having carefully designed micron-scale geometries. The results indicate a 2-μm dose transition region near the absorber edge resulting from PMMA’s photoelectrons. This region leads to sidewall offset and to tapered sidewalls following resist development. The results also show a dose boundary layer of around 1 μm near the substrate interface due to electrons emitted from the substrate metallization layer. The maximum dose at the resist bottom under the absorber can be very high and can lead to feature loss during development. This model was also used to investigate those resist doses resulting from multi-layer substrate.
LIGA, an acronym from the German words for Lithography, Electroforming, and Molding, is being evaluated worldwide as a method to produce microparts from engineering materials. Much of the work to date in LIGA has focused on producing metal microparts, with nickel as the most common material of choice. There is a growing interest in producing plastic parts replicated from LIGA metal masters due largely to microanalytical instrumentation and medical applications. These plastic replicates are generally made by either hot embossing or injection molding. Ceramic replication, of particular interest for high temperature applications or to produce piezoelectric or magnetic microparts, is also emerging as an area of interest. In this paper, a model of the LIGA exposure and development processes is presented along with the result of numerical optimization of mask design and process cost. The baseline processes for a cost- effective method to produce metal microparts are discussed, along with replication methods and result for plastics and ceramics.
Minimizing mask absorber thickness is an important practical concern in producing very small features by the LIGA process. To assist in this minimization, we have developed coupled numerical models describing both the exposure and subsequent development of a thick PMMA resist. The exposure model addresses multi-wavelength, 1D x-ray transmission through multiple beam filters, through the mask substrate and absorber, and the subsequent attenuation and photon absorption in the PMMA target. The development model describes 1D dissolution of a feature and its sidewalls, taking into account the variation in absorbed dose through the PMMA thickness. These exposure and development models are coupled in a single interactive code, permitting the automated adjustment of mask absorber thickness to yield a prescribed sidewall taper or dissolution distance.We have used this tool to compute the minimum required absorber thickness for exposures performed at the ALS, SSRL and NSLS synchrotron sources. Results are presented as a function of the absorbed dose for a range of the prescribed sidewall tolerance, feature size, PMMA thickness, mask substrate thickness and the development temperature.
PMMA has been the primary resist used in synchrotron exposures for micro-machined parts fabricated by the LIGA process. Because development of this resist directly influences both tolerances and surface finish of completed LIGA structures, it is important to have a good quantitative understanding of PMMA development as a function of the absorbed dose, as well as both the exposure and development conditions. The various synchrotron sources used for LIGA fabrication vary widely in beam energy and flux, and these variations would be expected to influence development rates. Here we present a simple method to measure PMMA development rate over a moderate range of doses using only a single exposure at the synchrotron source. By employing several exposures, this method allows ready determination of development rates over a wide range of exposure and development conditions. Results are presented for the kinetics of PMMA development over a range of development temperatures, absorbed doses, dose rates and sample ages for exposures performed at three major x-ray sources in the United States.
To better understand and to help optimize the electroforming portion of the LIGA process, we have developed one and two- dimensional numerical models describing electrodeposition of metal into high aspect-ratio molds. The one-dimensional model addresses dissociation, diffusion, electromigration, and deposition of multiple ion species. The two-dimensional model is limited to a single species, but includes transport induced by forced flow of electrolyte outside the mold and by buoyancy associated with metal ion depletion within the mold. To guide model development and to validate these models, we have also conducted a series of laboratory experiments using a sulfamate bath to deposit nickel in cylindrical molds having aspect ratios up to twenty-five. The experimental results indicate that current densities well in excess of diffusion-limited currents may still yield acceptable morphologies in the deposited metal. However, the numerical models demonstrate that such large ion fluxes cannot be sustained by convection within the mold resulting from flow across the mold top. Instead, calculations suggest that the observed hundred-fold enhancement of transport probably results from natural convection within the molds and that buoyancy-driven flows may be critical to metal ion transport even in micron-scale features having very large aspect ratios. Taking advantage of this enhanced ion transport may allow order-of-magnitude reductions in electroforming times for LIGA microdevice fabrication.