System for Passive Alignment of Surfaces
Temporarily bringing two surfaces in physical contact with each other is required during several manufacturing processes. For example, during imprinting-based transfer of patterns from a stamp/template onto a substrate surface, the template must make conformal contact with the substrate. Conformal contact means that the entire surface of the template is in contact with the substrate; this ensures that pattern transfer is successful over the entire surface area of the template. Conformal contact is hindered by the initial angular misalignments between the surfaces. When soft/deformable templates are used, conformal contact may be achieved by compressing the template onto the substrate. However, this technique is not appropriate when the template contains fragile features that are susceptible to damage at high contact forces. Thus, to ensure conformal contact between such fragile surfaces one must (i) align the surfaces parallel to each other and (ii) maintain the contact forces below a threshold value. Although high-precision stages are available for actively aligning surfaces at low contact forces, these are impractical for adoption in a manufacturing system because of their higher costs. Herein, we have invented a tool to passively align two initially misaligned planar surfaces parallel to each other such that (i) conformal contact is achieved and (ii) the contact forces are low. Our passive alignment scheme eliminates the need for expensive sensors and actuators for the motion system, thereby lowering the cost of the alignment process by a factor of ~100. This makes it economical to adopt our alignment system for large scale imprinting-based manufacturing.
Attached files:13658903 (MIT 15820 PAT).pdfPatents:
US 8,834,146 issued 2014-09-16 [MORE INFO
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