Compliant membranes improve resolution in full-wafer micro/nanostencil lithography
This work reports on a considerable resolution improvement of micro/nanostencil lithography when applied on full-wafer scale by using compliant membranes to reduce gap-induced pattern blurring. Silicon nitride (SiN) membranes are mechanically decoupled from a rigid silicon (Si) frame by means of four compliant, protruding cantilevers. When pressing the stencil into contact with a surface to be patterned, the membranes thus adapt to the surface independently and reduce the gap between the membrane and the substrate even over large, uneven surfaces. Finite element modeling (FEM) simulations show that compliant membranes can deflect vertically 40 mm which is a typical maximal non-planarity observed in standard Si wafers, due to polishing. Microapertures in the stencil membrane are defined by UV lithography and nanoapertures, down to 200 nm in diameter, using focused ion beam (FIB). A thin aluminium (Al) layer is deposited through both compliant and non-compliant membranes on a Si wafer, for comparison. The blurring in the case of compliant membranes is up to 95% reduced on full-wafer scale compared to standard (non-compliant) membranes.