As the next-generation technology moves below 100 nm mark, the need arises for a capability of manipulation and positioning of light on the scale of tens of nanometers. Plasmonic optics opens the door to operate beyond the diffraction limit by placing a sub-wavelength aperture in an opaque metal sheet. Recent experimental works  demonstrated that a giant transmission efficiency (>15%) can be achieved by exciting the surface plasmons with artificially displaced arrays of sub-wavelength holes. Moreover the effectively short modal wavelength of surface plasmons opens up the possibility to overcome the diffraction limit in the near-field lithography. This shows promise in a revolutionary high throughput and high density optical lithography. In this paper, we demonstrate the feasibility of near-field nanolithography by exciting surface plasmon on nanostructures perforated on metal film. Plasmonic masks of hole arrays and “bull’s eye” structures (single hole surrounded by concentric ring grating)  are fabricated using Focused Ion Beam (FIB). A special index matching spacer layer is then deposited onto the masks to ensure high transmissivity. Consequently, an I-line negative photoresist is spun on the top of spacer layer in order to obtain the exposure results. A FDTD simulation study has been conducted to predict the near field profile  of the designed plasmonic masks. Our preliminary exposure test using these hole-array masks demonstrated 170 nm period dot array patterns, well beyond the resolution limit of conventional lithography using near-UV wavelength. Furthermore, the exposure result obtained from the bull’s eye structures indicated the characteristics of periodicity and polarization dependence, which confirmed the contribution of surface plasmons.
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Srituravanich, W, Fang, N, Sun, C, Durant, S, Ambati, M, & Zhang, X. "Plasmonic Lithography." Proceedings of the ASME 2004 3rd Integrated Nanosystems Conference. Design, Synthesis, and Applications. Pasadena, California, USA. September 22–24, 2004. pp. 99-100. ASME. https://doi.org/10.1115/NANO2004-46023
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