EV Group Ramps Nanoimprint Lithography into High-Volume Manufacturing with HERCULES® NIL Track System

EV Group (EVG), a leading supplier of wafer bonding and lithography equipment for the MEMS, nanotechnology and semiconductor markets, has unveiled the HERCULES® NIL-a fully integrated track system that combines cleaning, resist coating and baking pre-processing steps with EVG's proprietary SmartNIL™ large-area nanoimprint lithography (NIL) process in a single platform.

Offering industry-leading productivity and throughput, the HERCULES NIL provides a complete, dedicated UV-NIL solution that is ideally suited for high-volume manufacturing (HVM) of emerging photonic devices. It does so by imprinting structures in sizes ranging from tens of nanometers up to several micrometers that alter or improve the optical response of surfaces and devices, such as anti-reflective layers, color and polarizer filters, light guiding plates, patterned sapphire substrates used in manufacturing light emitting diodes (LEDs), and many others. Other rapidly emerging applications for NIL include MEMS, NEMS, biological and nano-electronic applications.

"The HERCULES NIL demonstrates EVG's 'Triple i' philosophy of 'invent-innovate-implement' at work," stated Paul Lindner, executive technology director at EV Group. "EVG has been an early pioneer in the development of NIL equipment. After more than a decade of research and continuous improvements, EVG has now propelled NIL technology to a level of maturity that enables significant advantages for certain applications compared to traditional optical lithography. In addition, the Hercules NIL allows a wider array of applications, particularly in the fields of photonics and biotechnology, to finally leverage the cost-of-ownership and resolution benefits of NIL in volume production."

The HERCULES NIL combines EVG's extensive expertise in NIL, resist processing and HVM solutions into a single integrated system that offers unmatched throughput (40 wph for 200-mm wafers). The system is built on a highly configurable and modular platform that accommodates a variety of imprint materials and structure sizes-giving customers greater flexibility in addressing their manufacturing needs. The fully integrated approach also minimizes the risk of particle contamination.

Key product attributes include:

  • Fully automated UV-NIL imprinting and low-force detachment
  • Processing substrates up to 200 mm in diameter
  • Full-area imprint coverage, which avoids pattern stitching errors associated with step-and-repeat lithography systems due to limited field size
  • Volume manufacturing of structures down to 40 nm and smaller
  • Highest coating uniformity of +/- 1 percent, which results in minimal residual layer thickness and variation for processed structures over the entire wafer
  • Supports a wide range of structure sizes and shapes, including 3-D
  • Can be used on high-topography (rough) surfaces
  • Ability to fabricate multiple-use soft stamps to extend the lifetime of master imprint templates

EVG's new HERCULES NIL system is available now. Systems have already been installed and are being used for high-volume manufacturing at production sites of leading photonic device manufacturers.  

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