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New Photoresist Does Old Acid Chemistry

Promising glass material works just like traditional lithography polymers

by Jyllian Kemsley
May 28, 2012 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 90, Issue 22

The mechanism of acid production in a molecular glass photoresist for extreme ultraviolet lithography involves the formation of an aryloxy radical, just as in traditional polymer resist materials (J. Phys. Chem. B, DOI: 10.1021/jp300677q). Researchers want to understand how this type of photoresist works because they believe it could yield better lithographic resolution on semiconductor chips. It is made from a ladder-type cyclic oligomer called noria, with 50% of its hydroxyl groups substituted with 2-acetyloxy-2-methyladamantyl ester groups (noria-AD50). Both noria-AD50 and traditional resist materials, such as poly(4-hydroxystyrene) (PHS), are mixed with triphenylsulfonium triflate to capture ionized electrons from light exposure; the lithographic image is developed through acid-catalyzed deprotection reactions. In the new work, a group led by David M. Bartels at the Notre Dame Radiation Laboratory used electron paramagnetic resonance spectroscopy to find that acid production in noria-AD50 involves generation of an aryloxy radical, the same as for PHS. Surprisingly, the group found that noria-AD50 produces nearly the same amount of acid as PHS even though noria-AD50 has half the density of aryl alcohol groups. The researchers propose that proton transfers from the adamantyl groups prevent charge recombination and stabilize radical formation.


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