A new nuclear nanoprobe facility has been developed at the Centre for Ion Beam Applications (CIBA) in the Physics Department of the National University of Singapore. This facility is the first of its type dedicated to proton beam micromachining on a micron as well as a nano scale. The design and performance of the facility, which is optimized for 3D lithography with MeV protons, is discussed here. The system has been designed to be compatible with Si wafers up to 6”.
The production of good quality high aspect ratio microstructures requires a lithographic technique capable of producing microstructures with smooth vertical sidewalls. In proton beam micromachining, a high energy (e.g. 2 MeV) proton beam is focused to a sub-100 nm spot size and scanned over a resist material (e.g. SU-8 and polymethylmethacrylate (PMMA)). When a proton beam interacts with matter it follows an almost straight path, the depth of which is dependent on the proton beam energy. These features enable the production of nanometer sized polymer structures. Experiments have shown that post-bake and curing steps are not required in this SU-8 process, reducing the effects of cracking and internal stress in the resist. Since proton beam micromachining is a fast direct write lithographic technique it has high potential for the production of high-aspect-ratio nano-structures.