Use of Sacrificial Nanoparticles to Remove the Effects of Shot-noise in Contact Holes Fabricated by E-beam Lithography

Published In

Journal of Visualized Experiments

Document Type


Publication Date



Nano-patterns fabricated with extreme ultraviolet (EUV) or electron-beam (E-beam) lithography exhibit unexpected variations in size. This variation has been attributed to statistical fluctuations in the number of photons/electrons arriving at a given nano-region arising from shot-noise (SN). The SN varies inversely to the square root of a number of photons/electrons. For a fixed dosage, the SN is larger in EUV and E-beam lithographies than for traditional (193 nm) optical lithography. Bottom-up and top-down patterning approaches are combined to minimize the effects of shot noise in nano-hole patterning. Specifically, an amino-silane surfactant self-assembles on a silicon wafer that is subsequently spin-coated with a 100 nm film of a PMMA-based E-beam photoresist. Exposure to the E-beam and the subsequent development uncover the underlying surfactant film at the bottoms of the holes. Dipping the wafer in a suspension of negatively charged, citrate-capped, 20 nm gold nanoparticles (GNP) deposits one particle per hole. The exposed positively charged surfactant film in the hole electrostatically funnels the negatively charged nanoparticle to the center of an exposed hole, which permanently fixes the positional registry. Next, by heating near the glass transition temperature of the photoresist polymer, the photoresist film reflows and engulfs the nanoparticles. This process erases the holes affected by SN but leaves the deposited GNPs locked in place by strong electrostatic binding. Treatment with oxygen plasma exposes the GNPs by etching a thin layer of the photoresist. Wet-etching the exposed GNPs with a solution of I2/KI yields uniform holes located at the center of indentations patterned by E-beam lithography. The experiments presented show that the approach reduces the variation in the size of the holes caused by SN from 35% to below 10%. The method extends the patterning limits of transistor contact holes to below 20 nm.

Locate the Document