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Plasmonic Imaging Lithography

Written by: 
National Nanomanufacturing Network

NSF Center for Scalable and Integrated NanoManufacturing (SINAM), University of California Berkeley 

In order to leverage the dramatic advancements in nano-scale science and engineering, there is an urgent need for versatile, high-throughput nanofabrication technologies that are adaptable to frequent design changes. Commonly used mask-less nano-lithography methods, such as electron-beam, focused ion-beam and scanning-probe lithography, can provide the desired flexibility, but prove to be rather limited by their throughput, mainly due to their slow scanning capabilities.

The properties of plasmonic lens technology, previously reported, enable a sub-100 nm spot with an intensity of approximately 2 orders of magnitude higher than the incident light. In order to realize high-speed scanning, an air-bearing—a mature technology used in the magnetic recording heads of hard disk drives—was employed. By controlling the firing of the laser with respect to the position of the plasmonic flying head over the photoresist surface, high speed arbitrary nano-patterning with a spatial resolution of up to 80 nm has been demonstrated. Such a low cost, high-throughput nano-fabrication method promises a new route towards the next generation nanomanufacturing.


This testbed element has developed a novel high-throughput mask-less nano-lithography method utilizing a plasmonic optical lens flying at a speed of greater than 20 mph above a photoresist. This research will also be applicable to other nanomanufacturing processes since precision motion is the backbone of any nanomanufacturing process.

SINAM Figure 1
Design of the new scale up plasmonic nanomanufacturing (PNL_Pico) tool testbed.

Challenges, Issues, and Methods

  • Design and implement a flying head with plasmonic lens array mounted on advanced air bearing similar to hard disc drive systems
  • Provide scan rates of >10m/sec while maintaining proximity gap of <20 nm over resist surface.
  • Demonstrate <100nm patterns with 20 nm resolution.
  • Simulate, build, and implement novel air bearing design.
  • Optimize power, energy and process parameters for efficient, scalable, high throughput nanomanufacturing


  • First generation (PIL Nano) system design utilizing standard disc drive with plasmonic lens maintaining 20 nm gap demonstrated 80nm linewidth with 20 nm resolution at scan speeds from 4-14 m/sec.
  • Second generation advanced air bearing design maintaining 10 nm gap demonstrated in commercial flying head tester up to scan speeds of 10 m/sec.
  • New generation of plasmonic lens design with higher working efficiency and small foot print developed.
  • Implemented next generation integrated system as test-bed for plasmonic lithography, PIL_Nano system for development of the process, as well as to study aspects of its scalability, efficiency, quality and environmental impact.
  • Synchronized laser firing with precision positioning of plasmonic flying head enables arbitrary lithographic patterning.
  • Fabrication, integration of plasmonic flying head on a 3 mm by 2 mm piece of sapphire, 0.3 mm thick. To obtain interferometric signals from this will require the assembly of very small mirrors on the side of the sapphire flying head.
SINAM Figure 2a
Single dot exposure reaching 20nm resolution.
SINAM Figure 2b
Arbitrary pattern writing of “SINAM”.

Industrial Sectors of Interest

Magnetic and optical data storage, semiconductor, advanced nanolithography manufacturing tools.


  1. Bogy DB, Pan L. Plasmonic Lithography for Nanomanufacturing. Presented at: Nanomanufacturing Summit 2009.May 27-29, 2009; Boston, MA. Available from:
  2. Srituravanich W, Pan L, Wang Y, et al. 2008. Flying plasmonic lens in the near field for high-speed nanolithography. Nature Nanotechnology 3(12): 733-737. 
  3. Wang Y, Srituravanich W, Sun C, et al. 2008. Plasmonic nearfield scanning probe with high transmission. Nano Letters 8(9): 3041-3045. 
  4. Lee H, Liu ZW, Xiong Y, et al. 2008. Design, fabrication and characterization of a Far-field Superlens. Solid State Communications 146(5-6) 202-207.
  5. Xiong Y, Liu Z, Sun C, et al. 2007. Two-dimensional Imaging by far-field superlens at visible wavelengths. Nano Letters 7(11): 3360-3365.  

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