High-efficiency diffraction gratings for EUV and soft x-rays using spin-on-carbon underlayers

Xiaolong Wang, Dimitrios Kazazis, Li-ting Tseng, Alex P G Robinson, Yasin Ekinci

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We report on the fabrication and characterization of high-resolution gratings with high efficiency in the extreme ultraviolet (EUV) and soft x-ray ranges using spin-on-carbon (SOC) underlayers. We demonstrate the fabrication of diffraction gratings down to 20 nm half-pitch (HP) on Si3N4membranes with a bilayer of hydrogen silsesquioxane (HSQ) and spin-on-carbon and show their performance as a grating mask for extreme ultraviolet interference lithography (EUV-IL). High-resolution patterning of HSQ is possible only for thin films due to pattern collapse. The combination of this high-resolution resist with SOC circumvents this problem and enables the fabrication of high aspect ratio nanostructures. Rigorous coupled-wave analysis shows that the bilayer gratings exhibit higher diffraction efficiency than what is feasible with a grating made of HSQ. We also demonstrate a simple and accurate method to experimentally measure the diffraction efficiency of high-resolution gratings by measuring the relative ratio of the dose-to-clear curves of the photoresist. The measured diffraction efficiencies are in good agreement with the theoretically predicted values. Furthermore, we verify our calculations and measurements by printing line/space patterns in chemically amplified resists down to 10 nm HP with both HSQ and bilayer grating masks using EUV-IL. The improved diffraction efficiency of the bilayers is expected to have applications not only in gratings for interference lithography, but also in Fresnel zone plates and gratings for spectroscopy in the EUV and soft x-ray ranges.
Original languageEnglish
Article number065301
Issue number6
Early online date15 Nov 2021
Publication statusPublished - 5 Feb 2022


  • ;interference lithography
  • EUV
  • diffraction gratings
  • diffractive optics
  • soft x-rays
  • spin-on-carbon.


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