Nanoimprint Lithography of Organic Functional Materials

Introduction Organic functional materials offer advantages relative to their inorganic analogs including mechanical flexibility and inexpensive fabrication. Similarly, nanoimprint lithography (NIL)
has made much progress as an alternative to conventional photolithography that can provide the same parallel processing capabilities without the use of photoresists and the solvents associated with their processing. The basic NIL experiment involves a patterned “stamp”
being pressed into a heated polymer film, and then separated after cooling,, leaving the polymer film imprinted with the inverse pattern of the stamp. Compatibility problems with organic functional materials arise when the necessary heating stage of NIL is performed, since the temperatures for patterning a standard thermoplastic are near 200ºC. At these temperatures, many functional organic materials will decompose, sublime, or otherwise be rendered inactive, especially in an oxygen atmosphere. Technology description Researchers at the University of Washington have created a process by which a nanometerscale pattern can be transferred from a “stamp” to a polymer film which consists of a
“functional material” such as an electro-optic, light emitting, or semiconducting polymer. The nanoimprint process simply uses pressure and heating to impress a design into a polymer film. This improvement leads to a more robust stamped film but achieves this at a very mild temperature compared to traditional nanoimprint conditions, making it an ideal technique for patterning organic functional materials which are greatly sensitive to the elevated temperatures needed to nanoimprint a traditional polymer. Business Opportunity Nanoimprint lithography is one of the most promising processes for next generation lithography due to its simplicity, low cost, high replication fidelity and relatively high throughput. The nanoimprint tool business is predicted to grow to nearly $235 million by 2010. Intellectual Property Position The UW has a US patent pending on this technology. Related Publication Firestone KA et al, Advances in organic electro-optic materials and processing, Inorganica Chimica Acta. 2004 November; 357(13):3957-3966.

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