Acid generation efficiency: EUV photons versus photoelectrons
EUV photoacid generation efficiency has been described primarily in terms of the EUV photon absorption by the PAG or the resist matrix and the production of low energy photoelectrons, which are reported as being ultimately responsible for the high quantum efficiencies reported in EUV resists (<1). Such observation led to a number of recent studies on PAGs with variable electron affinity (EA) and reduction potential (Ered) presumably conducive to a differential EUV photoelectron harvesting efficiency. However, such studies either did not disclose the PAG chemical structures, replaced the EUV source with an e-beam source, or lacked a fundamental discussion of the underlying physical mechanisms behind EUV PAG decomposition. In this work, we report the EUV photospeed of a methacrylatebased resist formulated with a battery of openly disclosed isostructural sulfonium PAGs covering a wide range of EA's and Ered's, to unveil any preferential photoelectron scavenging effect. In parallel, several iodonium PAGs are also tested in order to compare the direct EUV photon absorption route to the photoelectron-based decomposition path. Contrarily to what has been widely reported, we have found no direct correlation whatsoever between photospeed and the calculated EA's or experimental Ered's for the isostructural sulfonium PAGs studied. Instead, we found that iodonium PAGs make more efficient use of the available EUV power due to their higher photoabsorption cross-section. Additionally, we determined a cation size effect for both PAG groups, which is able to further modulate the acid generation efficiency. Finally, we present a formal explanation for the unselective response towards photoelectron harvesting based on the stabilization of the PAG cation by bulky substituent groups, the spatial and temporal range of the transient photoelectron and the differences in electron transfer processes for the different systems studied.