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Scalable Manufacturing of Organic Nano Devices for Electronics and Photonics

Final Report Summary - SMONDEP (Scalable Manufacturing of Organic Nano Devices for Electronics and Photonics)

Nanoscale devices and systems represent enormous potential due to their unique physical, chemical and biological properties, which differ from the bulk and molecular level material properties. Although a variety of nanostructured material systems and devices with enhanced or totally unique properties have been demonstrated, fabrication at nanoscale still requires slow and expensive lab-scale methods with little potential for production at commercial scale. What is needed for pushing nanostructured devices and systems into commercial market is the development of scalable manufacturing methods that are economically feasible and compatible with existing fabrication technologies.
Polymeric materials, in addition to silicon and other inorganic materials, have been used in semiconductor industry for many decades during fabrication processes (as photoresists or sacrificial materials). However, the integration of polymers into device structures as active and/or passive components is still in early stages. The chemical and mechanical properties of polymeric materials offer great potential for a variety of applications especially for biomedical, microelectrical and mechanical (MEMS) and photonics.
One of the technological roadblocks for fabricating polymeric nanostructures and incorporating them into electronic and photonic systems is the limited chemical and thermal stability of organic materials at conventional CMOS fabrication environment. These limitations also hinder the incorporation of Electro-Optic (EO) materials into electronic and photonic devices in which the substrate is not planar and/or has complex geometries. Electro-optic materials are considered to the key components in the next generation of photonic devices since they enable the exchange of information between electronic and photonic domains. The full potential of polymeric materials cannot be fully exploited until new methods or techniques for fabrication of organic materials are developed. Similarly, novel EO materials with better chemical and thermal stabilities and higher EO coefficients than what is available today, and scalable processes that can take advantage of new chemistries to fabricate electronic/photonic devices reliably at low temperatures and at low cost are needed.
This research activity aims to demonstrate an economically viable and scalable nano-manufacturing method using a modified Chemical Vapor Deposition (CVD) technique and a nano pattern transfer method based on Silicon Nanomembrane (Si-NM) technology for the fabrication of nanostructured polymeric device components for electronics and photonics. The main goal of this effort is to develop a nano-manufacturing method for polymeric materials compatible with, and complimentary to conventional semiconductor manufacturing schemes. The main goal of this effort is to develop a nano-manufacturing method for polymeric materials compatible with, and complimentary to conventional semiconductor manufacturing schemes. The goal can be expressed in more details by listing the following objectives:
• Design and simulation of electronic/photonic device components that are not possible to fabricate with conventional nano-fabrication methods
• Demonstration of polymer nano-components using a modified CVD method
• Evaluation of process scale up
In order to achieve these objectives;
• Several electronic and photonic device components were designed based on inputs from two companies. Device designs included passive waveguides, optical gratings, photonic crystals and microlens arrays.
• Si nanomembrane templates for the designed device components were prepared using conventional SOI wafers (260 nm device layer) and UV and/or E-beam lithography (based on feature size).
• Large area thin-film coatings that can serve as encapsulation layers, anti-reflection, anti-fouling layers, optical filters, low/high pass filters, narrow band filters, hot/cold mirrors (all passive device components) as well as waveguides, photonic crystals were fabricated via CVD method.
For the characterization of passive and active device components, reflectometry, Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR), Optical Microscopy (OM), Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM), Atomic-Force Microscopy (AFM) were used. MIL-F-48616 and MIL-O-13830 military standards were followed for the performance tests. At the end of the project the following conclusions have been reached:
• With a lab scale system used in this research activity, polymeric nano structures and thin-film coatings can be fabricated on a flat 20 cm x 20 cm substrate with a thickness variation less than 5 nm over the entire substrate surface. Deposition rate can be finely tuned from a few nm/min to a few hundred nm/min.
• The CVD system built in this research activity can be modified to use flexible substrates that are compatible with roll-to roll processing. However, this modification is not technically and economically feasible due to the small size of the research scale reactor. It has been determined that a roll-to-roll CVD system with a substrate width of 1 meter (and with hundreds of meters in length) would be technically feasible.
• The CVD system with a fixed substrate holder (that can also use 3D substrates) can be easily scaled-up to incorporate 1 m x 1 m substrate with no significant cost increase. Actually such a batch system with fixed substrate can be used in most of the today’s applications. Therefore, it can be stated that roll-to-roll fabrication is more suitable for passive devices for large areas devices (such as coatings), and batch system should be the choice for the rest of the applications.
• Si-NM transfer process provides a very effective and relatively cheap alternative to state of the art lithography methods due to long service life of the mask, however the method is only applicable for small size batch CVD systems and cannot be transferred either to very large area fixed substrate processing or to roll-to-roll system without significant cost increase making it economical not feasible.

During the projects several companies have shown interest in possible commercialization of our research activity. We are in the process of fabricating prototypes passive device components on large area optical substrates provided by these companies. After testing of the finals products, we intent to license the technology to these companies provided that intellectual property is protected by international patents. We are in the process of preparering at least two international patent applications related to our research. The target groups are manufactures of electronics, photonics and optical devices for consumer electronics, military and civil aviation. More information related to SMONDEP project can be found on project website by following the link Questions and inquiries should be sent to Dr. Ozgenc Ebil at