HOUSTON, July 1, 2014 Have you ever wondered how the tiny components and devices inside your cell phone are made?
The devices inside your phone and computer, such as integrated circuits, microprocessors and memory chips, are made in a process called lithography that, in Greek, translates quite literally to "writing on stones."
In the semiconductor industry, lithography is used to print two-dimensional patterns onto silicon wafers using a light-sensitive polymer called a photoresist. Patterns are transferred into the silicon wafer with different unit operations, like deposition or etching, to build up the conductors, insulators and circuits that form the final device.
Though the lithography process might sound simple, it requires a variety of very complex physical and chemical processes in the photoresist to form the pattern. The semiconductor industry relies on the lithography process to produce nearly all electronic device components yet, very little is understood about the physics and chemistry underlying the complex chemical reactions required for semiconductor patterning.
But Gila Stein, Ernest J. and Barbara M. Henley Assistant Professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering at the University of Houston Cullen College of Engineering, is looking to change all of that thanks to a $279,411, three-year grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF). With this award, Stein will be working to build models that can explain the complex physical and chemical reactions that take place in lithography systems used for device fabrication.
Specifically, Stein will be researching materials called chemically amplified resists, which are systems wherein a polymer is blended with a catalyst and then a chemical reaction is used to form the patterns for semiconductor devices. Her collaborator on this project is Manolis Doxastakis, a materials scientist and simulations expert at Argonne National Laboratory.
|Contact: Audrey Grayson|
University of Houston