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Hierarchical structure formation and pattern replication induced by an electric field


Several techniques based on soft lithography have emerged to replicate micrometre-sized patterns. Similar to most other lithographic methods, these techniques structure a single layer of photo resist. For many applications, however, it is desirable to control the spatial arrangement of more than one component. With traditional methods, this requires an iterative, multistep procedure, making the replication process more complex and less reliable. Here, a replication process is described where multiple materials are processed simultaneously. Using a bilayer formed by two different polymers, electrohydrodynamic instabilities at both polymer surfaces produce a hierarchic lateral structure that exhibits two independent characteristic dimensions. A lateral modulation of the electric field enables replication with a resolution down to 100 nanometres. This approach might provide a simple strategy for large-area, sub-100-nanometre lithography.

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Figure 1: Model of the hierarchic structure-formation process.
Figure 2: Instabilities of a PMMA–PS–air trilayer in an electric field.
Figure 3: Pattern replication by a hierarchical instability.
Figure 4: Dependence of the secondary instability on the electric field.
Figure 5: Large-area images of replicated patterns.


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We thank B. Maile and eXtreme Lithography for the master patterns. This work was partially funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) through the Sonderforschungsbereich 513, by the Dutch Stichting voor Fundamenteel Onderzoek der Materie (FOM), by NASA under contract NAG8-694, and by the National Science Foundation-supported Materials Research Science and Engineering Center (DMR98-09365).

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Correspondence to Thomas P. Russell or Ullrich Steiner.

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Morariu, M., Voicu, N., Schäffer, E. et al. Hierarchical structure formation and pattern replication induced by an electric field. Nature Mater 2, 48–52 (2003).

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