A simulation study on the effect of cross-linking agent concentration for defect tolerant demolding in UV nanoimprint lithography

Langmuir. 2012 Aug 7;28(31):11546-54. doi: 10.1021/la300256k. Epub 2012 Jul 23.


The chemistry and composition of UV-sensitive resists are key factors determining the stress in the molded resist structure in UV nanoimprint lithography (UV-NIL) and thus the success of the process. The stress in the molded structure is mainly generated due to shrinkage of the resist in the UV curing step and also adhesion and friction at the stamp/resist interface in the subsequent demolding step. Thus, understanding of the stress generated in these steps is critical to the improvement of the process as well as the development of new UV resists. In this paper the effect of resist composition on the stress generation was studied by numerical simulations of the curing and demolding steps in UV-NIL. Parameters required for the simulation, such as resist shrinkage, Young's modulus, fracture strength, friction coefficient, crack initiation stress, and debonding energy, were determined experimentally for different resist compositions. As the cross-linking agent concentration increases the fracture strength also improves. In addition, as more cross-linking agent is added to the resist composition, both shrinkage stress due to the curing and also adhesion at the stamp/resist interface increase resulting in a larger maximum local stress experienced by the resist on demolding. By normalizing the overall maximum local stress by the fracture stress of the resist, we found that there is an optimum for the cross-linking agent concentration that leads to the most successful imprinting. Our finding is also corroborated by qualitative experimentations performed for UV-NIL with various resist compositions.