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Nanoimprint Lithography


The basic principle behind nanoimprint lithography (NIL) has been known for centuries if not millenniums. In 1995, Stephen Chou named the technique and demonstrated sub-100 nm lithography by physically deforming a thermoplastic material in a temperature and pressure controlled printing process. It was done using a silicon stamp patterned by electron beam lithography and dry etching.

Today, several versions of NIL exist: Thermal wafer scale NIL, UV wafer scale NIL, UV step and repeat NIL and Roll-to-Roll printing. Common to all NIL techniques is that a stamp/mold/master/template or shim is needed in order to physically deform a polymer. NILT is specialized in delivering these in high quality.

In thermal NIL, a thermoplastic or thermosetting polymer is deformed by pressing the stamp into the polymer at a temperature above the polymer's glass-transition temperature. Hereafter, the polymer is cooled down to below the glass-transition temperature and the stamp is removed.

In UV NIL, transparent stamps, often referred to as templates, are imprinted into UV curable polymers at room temperature or slightly above. When the stamp is filled with polymer, the polymer is exposed to UV radiation through the stamp which cures the polymer. Subsequently, the stamp is removed.

Thermal NIL process illustration
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