Scientific Reports

Control of the interaction strength of photonic molecules by nanometer precise 3D fabrication

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Applications for high resolution 3D profiles, so-called grayscale lithography, exist in diverse fields such as optics, nanofluidics and tribology. All of them require the fabrication of patterns with reliable absolute patterning depth independent of the substrate location and target materials. Here we present a complete patterning and pattern-transfer solution based on thermal scanning probe lithography (t-SPL) and dry etching. We demonstrate the fabrication of 3D profiles in silicon and silicon oxide with nanometer scale accuracy of absolute depth levels. An accuracy of less than 1nm standard deviation in t-SPL is achieved by providing an accurate physical model of the writing process to a model-based implementation of a closed-loop lithography process. For transfering the pattern to a target substrate we optimized the etch process and demonstrate linear amplification of grayscale patterns into silicon and silicon oxide with amplification ratios of ∼6 and ∼1, respectively. The performance of the entire process is demonstrated by manufacturing photonic molecules of desired interaction strength. Excellent agreement of fabricated and simulated structures has been achieved.