EV Group (EVG), a leading supplier of wafer bonding and lithography equipment for the MEMS, nanotechnology and semiconductor markets, today announced that Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Optics and Precision Engineering IOF--one of 57 institutes of the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft dedicated to applied optics and precision applications-oriented research--selected EVG's UV-based nanoimprint lithography (UV-NIL) step and repeat system for its leading-edge optoelectronic research efforts. The Institute will be using the UV-NIL stepper for micro-lens mastering and molding for a host of micro-optics applications, including fiber optics and CMOS image sensors for wafer-level cameras, as well as for other nanoimprinting applications.
EVG's unique step and repeat imprinting approach integrates a lens master generation capability, which augments traditional single-step processes. This added capability enables the creation of a lens master for working stamp fabrication and subsequent full-wafer lens micro-molding. The system also offers significant cost-savings advantages, particularly compared to traditional lens master fabrication techniques, including the elimination of post-processing steps, the flexibility to use a variety of commercially available resists, and increased throughput. Pulling from its expertise in alignment systems, EVG's UV-NIL stepper features sub-micron alignment accuracy, resulting in improved yield as well as device performance.
"We are continuing to push the envelope in micro-optics research, and as such are looking for equipment partners that offer flexible, innovative, yet cost-effective systems that keep us on the cutting edge," said Dr. Peter Dannberg, group leader "Micro-optics Technology" of Fraunhofer IOF. "After evaluating solutions from several nanoimprint lithography suppliers, we ultimately selected EVG's system following positive demo results as well as for its superior micro-lens mastering and nanoimprinting capabilities. The process flexibility its UV-NIL stepper offers is a significant value add as well since it provides us with the ability to utilize it for a variety of applications."
"This opportunity to partner with a bellwether research institute such as Fraunhofer IOF is significant to us on many levels," noted Dr. Thomas Glinsner, head of product management for EV Group. "EVG's history is deeply rooted in serving R&D environments where there is a need for high-performance tools that are flexible and cost effective. Working closely with R&D universities and institutions is how we started our business, and over the years, it has opened new markets to EVG, allowing us to be involved in technologies from R&D infancy through high-volume commercialization. We are thrilled to be working with a world-renowned institute like Fraunhofer, and look forward to the exciting new opportunities our partnership may bring."
Nanoimprint lithography is gaining adoption in leading-edge R&D for various devices including wafer-level cameras, where lower manufacturing costs without sacrificing pattern fidelity is key to meeting the demands from markets such as mobile phones and optics. EVG has been active in UV-NIL since 1997, and has since worked with various industry partners and R&D institutions on developing nanoimprinting technologies. Among its high-volume customer base is Heptagon Micro-Optics Pte Ltd. in Singapore, who selected EVG's IQ Aligner for high-volume microlens production announced in July 2008.