Nanofabrication of Diffractive Soft X-ray Optics

University dissertation from Stockholm : KTH Royal Institute of Technology

Abstract: This thesis summarizes the present status of the nanofabrication of diffractive optics, i.e. zone plates, and test objects for soft x-ray microscopy at KTH. The emphasis is on new and improved fabrication processes for nickel and germanium zone plates. A new concept in which nickel and germanium are combined in a zone plate is also presented. The main techniques used in the fabrication are electron beam lithography for the patterning, followed by plasma etching and electroplating for the structuring of the optical materials. The process for fabricating nickel zone plates has been significantly improved. The reproducibility of the electroplating step has been increased by the implementation of an in-situ rate measurement and an end-point detection method. We have also shown that pulse plating can be used to obtain zone plates with a uniform height profile. New plating mold materials have been introduced and electron-beam curing of the molds has been investigated and implemented to increase their mechanical stability so that pattern collapse in the electroplating step can be avoided. The introduction of cold development has improved the achievable resolution of the process. This has enabled the fabrication of zone plates with outermost zone widths down to 16 nm. The nickel process has also recently been adapted to fabrication of gold structures intended for test objects and hard x-ray zone plates. For the fabrication of germanium zone plates we developed a highly anisotropic plasma-etch process using Cl2 feed and sidewall passivation. Germanium zone plates have been fabricated with zone widths down to 30 nm. The diffraction efficiency is comparable to that of nickel zone plates, but the process does not involve electroplating and thus has for potential for highyield fabrication. The combination of nickel and germanium is a new fabrication concept that provides a means to achieve high diffraction efficiency even for thin nickel. The idea is to fabricate a nickel zone plate on a germanium film. The nickel zone plate itself is then used as etch mask for a highly selective CHF3- plasma etch into the germanium layer. Proof of principle experiments showed an efficiency increase of about a factor of two for nickel zone plates with a 50- nm nickel thickness.

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