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SUSS MicroTec unveils the NPS300: An innovative NanoPatterning Stepper for cost effective volume production of nano-geometries

The partnership of SUSS MicroTec and VTT Microelectronics bears fruit: the first ever nanoimprint lithography system able to combine both hot and cold embossing on wafer in a step and repeat mode.

Saint-Jeoire, France, April 4th 2005, SUSS MicroTec today announces a next-generation lithography tool which will replace traditional optical lithography for the production of nano-scale devices.

The SUSS NPS300 NanoPatterning Stepper was developed within the Sixth Framework Program in cooperation with the VTT Microelectronics Center during a one-year project. In March 2004, a four-year European Commission NaPa project was initiated to develop nano-patterning methods aimed at integrating top-down miniaturization and bottom-up self-assembly fabrication approaches. The key outcome from NaPa will be the standardization of processes for nano-patterning to address future demands made by integrated circuits, pharmaceuticals, biotechnology and medical applications. In the framework of this research program, SUSS teamed up with several core partners (VTT, NMRC-NIL, NMRC-CMG, mrt, EPFL, IBM, LAAS) for the development of cutting edge complementary technologies in order to overcome all imprinting challenges including materials, stamps, tools, simulation, etc.

The newly designed machine has a very flexible configuration. The NPS300 is available either as a manually loaded machine or as a fully automated system with wafer loading capability. With the latter configuration the tool includes fully automated wafer handling for sizes up to 300 mm and an automated template pick up capability, allowing different templates to be printed on same wafer.

Optimized for the cost-effective replication of micro or nanometer scale devices, the SUSS NPS300 successfully achieves a sub-20 nm imprinting resolution for cold (UV-NIL) and hot embossing applications.

When equipped with the automatic alignment option, the NPS300 demonstrates a 250 nm overlay accuracy and accepts stamps with sizes up to 100 mm and with thickness' up to 6.5 mm. The NPS300 imprinting arm can be equipped with either a cold or a hot embossing head. The imprinting force ranges from 5N to 4kN. The active area of the stamp can be up to 40 x 40 mm for UV-NIL and 100 x 100 mm for hot embossing.

The optical system is a superimposing microscope with high magnification, which mixes the images of the stamp with that of the wafer before they reach the numeric video camera. The short working distance allows high numerical aperture, which gives an unsurpassed resolution.

"The NPS300 offers various imprinting techniques", explains Gilbert Lecarpentier, SUSS' Strategic Product Manager for the NPS300. "Step & Stamp Imprinting for Hot Embossing is an innovative method that has been demonstrated by VTT Microelectronic Centre in Finland with a FC150 Device Bonder. This imprint lithography method consists of transferring the pattern of the stamp into a thermoplastic embossing material by controlling heat and pressure. Ideal for performing all process steps required for different imprint lithography technologies, this new tool is a cost-effective alternative to high-resolution e-beam lithography for printing sub-20 nm geometries. Using in-situ material dispense and UV curing, the Step & Cure Imprinting method is also achieved with the NPS for Cold Embossing applications." This innovative technology is a very promising solution for replacing standard UV-lithography systems.

By using stamps or templates rather than optical lithography for the imprinting, the NPS300 can replicate the tiniest patterns. Applications include integrated optical devices (passive devices on diodes, gratings, photo refractive polymers, back side illumination devices, etc.), smart materials for microelectronics (sensors, resonators and transducers), sensors for temperature, light, molecules, life science as well as 3-dimensional replication.

Along with this Nano Patterning Stepper, SUSS additionally offers Mask Aligners for Cold Embossing at wafer level, a technique where an imprint resist is cured with UV light, and Substrate Bonders for Hot Embossing using temperature and pressure as curing parameters.


About VTT
VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland is a contract research organisation involved in many European research programs and other international assignments. With its 2800 employees, VTT provides technology and applied research services for its customers, private companies, institutions and the public sector. VTT also promotes technology transfer by creating public research knowledge and by actively participating in both domestic and international research in electronics, information technology, biotechnology, nanotechnology among others.

Turnover is about 210 million euros. VTT serves annually over 5000 domestic and foreign customers.


This story has been adapted from a news release -
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