Superlens Lithography achieves sub-50 nanometers

Nanoletters – High Aspect Subdiffraction-Limit Photolithography via a Silver Superlens

Photolithography is the technology of choice for mass patterning in semiconductor and data storage industries. Superlenses have demonstrated the capability of subdiffraction-limit imaging and been envisioned as a promising technology for potential nanophotolithography. Unfortunately, subdiffraction-limit patterns generated by current superlenses exhibited poor profile depth far below the requirement for photolithography. Here, we report an experimental demonstration of sub-50 nm resolution nanophotolithography via a smooth silver superlens with a high aspect profile of 45 nm, as well as grayscale subdiffraction-limit three-dimensional nanopatterning. Theoretical analysis and simulation show that smooth interfaces play a critical role. Superlens-based lithography can be integrated with conventional UV photolithography systems to endow them with the capability of nanophotolithography, which could provide a cost-effective approach for large scale and rapid nanopatterning.

The superlens can be integrated with conventional photolithography (365 nm wavelength) systems to achieve a comparable resolution (as deep UV immersion lithography and other expensive methods) and it is potentially capable of application in large-scale mass production. It greatly reduces the equipment cost and relevant materials and process cost.

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