IBM J. Res. Dev

Recent progress in electron-beam resists for advanced mask-making

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Resists for advanced mask-making with high-voltage electron-beam writing tools have undergone dramatic changes over the last three decades. From PMMA and the other early chain-scission resists for micron dimensions to the aqueous-base-developable, dry-etchable chemically amplified systems being developed today, careful tuning of the chemistry and processing conditions of these resist systems has allowed the patterning of photomasks of increasing complexity containing increasingly finer features. Most recently, our research efforts have been focused on a low-activation-energy chemically amplified resist based on ketal-protected poly(hydroxystyrene). These ketal resist systems, or KRSs, have undergone a series of optimization and evaluation cycles in order to fine-tune their performance for advanced mask-fabrication applications using the 75-kV IBM EL4+ vector scan e-beam exposure system. The experiments have led to an optimized formulation, KRS-XE, that exhibits superior lithographic performance and has a high level of processing robustness. In addition, we describe advanced formulations of KRS-XE incorporating organometallic species, which have shown superior dry-etch resistance to novolak-based resists in the Cr etch process while maintaining excellent lithographic performance. Finally, current challenges facing the implementation of a chemically amplified resist in the photomask manufacturing process are outlined, along with current approaches being pursued to extend the capabilities of KRS technology.