Emphasis on biomedical applications and further development of nanoimprint lithography and bonding systems
Partnership with Leti is developing successfully. Thanks to this project, NIL is finding wide use in photonics, plasmonics, photovoltaics and biotechnology. Through INSPIRE, all aspects of technology are being developed from feasibility-study stage to transferring ready-made solutions to industrial partners. This program provides the ability to check the capabilities of the technology without purchasing the equipment and the opportunities to transfer integrated process solutions with minimal costs of time and money.
One of the latest news was the agreement about the installation of HERCULES NIL system in Leti’s research center in Grenoble. This system is a unique development of EVG implementing SmartNIL technology. HERCULES NIL is a modular, highly configurable fully integrated platform that combines automatic cleaning, resist coating and baking with UV-NIL process. SmartNIL involves the use of a flexible stamp that can withstand up to 100 imprints, and allows to obtain complex structures with a resolution from several micrometers to tens of nanometers on different materials. The throughput is up to 40 200-mm wafers per hour. The installation of HERCULES NIL in Leti’s facility will give a new impetus to the INSPIRE program and will expedite the development of new solutions based on NIL.
NIL has already been successfully used in industrial production of polarization filters for liquid crystal displays, lenses, including for smartphone cameras, light guides and other optical elements as well as in LEDs manufacturing. The production of hard disks is a stable segment, where the application of high resolution NIL allows to increase the storage device’s capacity. Examples of successful use of NIL in conventional semiconductor productions are also known. And I would especially like to emphasize the promising applications of NIL in microfluidic devices for biomedical applications. We intend to pay special attention to the development of this area.
Why it is planned to focus on solutions for biotechnology and medicine?
Over the past few decades, the miniature devices – lab on a chip, or biomedical MEMS (bioMEMS) – have contributed to the simplification, improvement of the efficiency and cost reduction of diagnosis, pharmaceutical tests, and tasks of analytical chemistry. Modern bioMEMS are successfully applied for the rapid analysis of blood and other biological fluids to diagnose diseases or identify the drugs. According to the forecast of Yole Dйveloppement consulting company, the bioMEMS market will grow from $ 2.7 billion in 2015 to $ 7.6 billion in 2021. Microfluidic devices will represent the 86% of the total bioMEMS market in 2021.
What solutions are offered by EVG for production of bioMEMS?
All three types of NIL – hot-embossing, UV-based nanoimprint lithography and micro contact printing – are used in the production of bioMEMS. Traditional technologies such as injection molding, in many cases do not provide the required levels of precision and repeatability of micro- and nanostructures. At the same time, the advantage of NIL is the ability to efficiently scale up from the trial production to the start of serial manufacturing of commercial products of various shapes and sizes with complex surface structuring. Our equipment allows to create structures with resolution down to 20 nm on substrate materials widely used in biotechnology applications, such as glass, silicon, polymers (e.g., COC, COP, PMMA and PS). Hot-embossing is applied if it is necessary to form micro- and nanostructures on very thin substrates or elements with high aspect ratio. UV technology provides a combination of high precision and performance in the nanometer-range. Microcontact printing allows to pattern by transfer of biomolecules.
A variety of different bonding processes is also demanded in production of bioMEMS. Typical examples are thermal bonding for glass and polymer substrates and room-temperature selective adhesive transfer technology, which eases incorporation of bio-molecules prior to the encapsulation of the device.
What other new developments you can mention?
Recently, we introduced EVG50 automated metrology system, which is designed for advanced packaging, MEMS and photonics applications. EVG50 performs high-resolution non-destructive multi-layer thickness and topography measurement. It measures layers down to 2 µm in thickness. The system can inspect up to one million points with throughputs of up to 55 300-mm wafers per hour. EVG50 was developed based on the in-line metrology module (IMM), which is available as an option in EVG›s line of 300-mm process equipment and has been widely implemented in high-volume manufacturing.
We have also expanded the capabilities of EVG ComBond automated high-vacuum wafer bonding platform designed to support high-volume manufacturing of advanced MEMS devices. New capabilities include the vacuum alignment module, which enables sub-micron face-to-face alignment accuracy, and new programmable dehydration bake and getter activation module, which accelerates the removal of sticking gas molecules prior to bonding.
Interview: Dmitry Gudilin