Manufacturing Bits: Nov. 16

New hybrid EUV photoresist; antibody therapeutics.


New hybrid EUV photoresist
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has announced the winners for a recent entrepreneurial technology competition, including the development of a new EUV hybrid resist and an antibody therapeutics platform.

The event, called the National Lab Accelerator Pitch Event, involved a competition among 11 researchers within the DOE’s national labs. Researchers pitched various technologies and business models to investors.

The two winners were Chang-Yong Nam, a scientist at Brookhaven National Laboratory, and Brooke Harmon, senior member of the technical staff at Sandia National Laboratory. Nam proposed a business model to commercialize a technology called VIPP: Vapor-Infiltration Photoresist Process Technology for Next-Generation Semiconductor Manufacturing by Extreme (EUV) Lithography. VIPP promises to solve the EUV sensitivity and etch resistance issues with organic photoresists.

Harmon pitched the so-called Platform for Discovery, Design, and Engineering of Antibody Therapeutics for Emerging Viruses. This addresses the challenges associated with conventional antibodies as therapeutics.

The National Lab Accelerator Pitch Event showcased various technologies ready for commercialization. Over the year, researchers from DOE’s national labs developed business models and pitch presentations. All of the pitches can be viewed on the LLNL Innovation and Partnerships Office YouTube channel.

Brookhaven’s Nam has devised a way to improve resists in EUV lithography. Lithography equipment is used to pattern tiny features on chips, enabling chipmakers to develop smaller and faster devices at advanced nodes.

Today, chipmakers are using EUV to develop chips at the 7nm and 5nm nodes with 3nm in R&D. Resists are light-sensitive materials used to create patterns.

Today’s EUV resists work, but there is an assortment of tradeoffs and challenges here. “Carbon—the main element of the organic photoresists we currently use for EUV lithography—has a very low sensitivity to EUV light,” explained Nam. “Because of this sensitivity, we need to expose the resists to EUV light for a long time. This long exposure time limits the number of wafers we can process per hour.”

There are other EUV resist types. For example, metal-oxide EUV have better sensitivities, but they are less mature. What’s more, the resists are not ready for a next-generation EUV technology called high-NA EUV, which is slated for production in 2025.

That’s where VIPP fits in. Inorganic elements like zinc or tin—which have a high EUV sensitivity and etch resistance—are infused into existing organic photoresists using a vapor processing technique. The composition of the inorganic compound can be controlled without a complex chemical synthesis.

More specifically, VIPP involves a method of “infiltrating a metal into a resist material to provide the metal-infiltrated resist material,” according to a patent filed by Nam and others. “(The process involves) vapor-phase infiltration by using atomic layer deposition tools, or liquid phase infiltration.”

The technology is said to have high sensitivity with good resolutions. It also enables high etch rates. Nam and his team are now looking for industry partners to commercialize the technology. “We seek to mature the technology in terms of technical specifications like sensitivity, resolution, and defectivity as per manufacturing requirements and license it to semiconductor manufacturers,” said Nam. “Several semiconductor companies have confirmed the critical market need and expressed interest in our technology.”

At Sandia, meanwhile, Harmon devised a platform to combat emerging viruses. Some therapeutics, such as monoclonal antibodies, are popular but there are some challenges here.

Sandia has developed a platform to address these challenges. The platform or library involves nanobodies. “Nanobodies are the target binding region of single-domain heavy chain only antibodies (sdAbs), derived from camelids,” according to Sandia.

“The extreme diversity of our synthetic humanized nanobody library enabled by novel DNA synthesis techniques, makes this is a robust method for novel therapeutic discovery. With this library, highly sensitive and antigen specific nanobodies can be identified and validated within 4 months,” according to Sandia.

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