Posted: July 2, 2008

Austria launches nanoimprint lithography project NILaustria

(Nanowerk News) The Austrian government will fund a series of nanoimprint lithography (NIL) research projects. The NILaustria project will focus on large-area nanostructuring, using NIL to transfer different nanostructures to large surfaces in a cost-efficient manner, said project coordinator Michael Mühlberger of the Profactor Group.
The Profactor Group (Steyr, Austria) said funding has been approved for a series of seven nanoimprint lithography (NIL) research projects that it will coordinate with other Austrian research centers.
Profactor, which conducts applied production research, will serve as project cluster coordinator for the "NILaustria" project, which recently obtained funding of ∼5 million euros (∼$7.5M) over the next three years, spokeswoman Kathrin Riedlecker said.
Main research partners include the Austrian Research Centers (Seibersdorf, Germany), EV Group (St. Florian, Austria), Joanneum Research (Graz, Austria), Johannes Kepler University Linz (Linz, Austria) and Profactor, supported by seven other industrial and academic research centers based in Austria.
The NIL projects are part of the Austrian Nano Initiative, and is supported by the Federal Ministry of Traffic, Innovation and Technology (BMVIT). The partners will concentrate on large-area nanostructuring, which uses NIL to transfer different nanostructures to large surfaces in a cost-efficient manner, said project coordinator Michael Mühlberger, a Profactor manager. Three NIL variants will be used: micro-contact printing (µCP), UV-based nanoimprint lithography (UV-NIL) and hot embossing.
The projects include:
  • NIL biochip — Biochips are miniaturized analytical elements that can measure thousands of reactions simultaneously on a single chip with high throughput. To allow for their deployment in routine laboratory investigations, technical drawbacks, such as inadequate measuring sensitivity, must be overcome. The aim is to achieve this by the application of NIL for structuring of the chip's surface, integration of the micro-optical elements and surface enhanced fluorescence detection.
  • NIL meta — Anisotropic meta-materials with negative permittivity and negative permeability in certain frequency ranges (IR, UV) will be created using UV-NIL and/or nano-contact printing. The negative anisotropic refraction index and its dispersion will be measured by means of spectroscopic ellipsometry in the IR and visible frequency ranges and compared with theoretically calculated values.
  • NIL quantum dots — The aim of this project is to develop an existing process based on UV-NIL, which supports the manufacturing of defect-free, large-surface (~1 cm²) silica templates with structures in the 50 nm size range and a period of 100 nm. These templates will be used to optimize the growth of germanium quantum dots with a high level of uniformity at pre-defined positions. Possible applications for these large-surface, highly uniform nanostructures will be demonstrated in the fields of optoelectronics, spintronics and nanoelectronics.
  • NIL simtos — Organic thin-film transistors with channel lengths in the nanometer range are created on dielectrics by means of hot-embossing NIL. The electrical characteristics are optimized using growth layers and surface treatment. The stamp sizes will be increased to 10× the current values (i.e., to 6.3 × 6.3 cm).
  • NIL direct stamp — The project’s goal is to develop a mask and resistless manufacturing technology for NIL stamps. This is based on direct precipitation and etching of material with charged particles. A massively parallel grid of focused ions or electrons will support ultraprecise etching and precipitation of either a rigid mask or the stamp itself. The ability to create metallic and dielectric nanostructures (of <20 nm) and even complex 3-D structures directly on arbitrary surfaces will be a pioneering breakthrough in the manufacturing of NIL stamps.
  • NIL echo — The aim is to develop a technology for organic-electronic complementary circuits on flexible substrates that can be operated at frequencies above 10 kHz. The combination of short channels in fast, organic complementary circuits will be implemented by means of NIL hot-embossing processes, which allow for extremely high-resolution and large-surface parallel structuring.
  • NIL stamp replication — The project will research the manufacturing of working stamps from expensive master stamps. These working stamps will be used for nano-contact printing and UV-NIL, focusing on an NIL process for creating next-generation hard disk.
  • "We are convinced that the results returned by NILaustria will make nanoimprint lithography interesting for a large number of industrial applications," Mühlberger said, adding that, "All seven individual projects are oriented on the requirements of potential users. The results will be prepared in a way that makes them accessible to external enterprises."
    Source: Semiconductor International
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