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Advanced Manufacturing

Improving Photoresists for Better and More Efficient Semiconductor Lithography

Company Name: Inpria Corporation
Program Office: Advanced Manufacturing
Location: Corvallis, OR
Email: Andrew Grenville, CEO;
Award Amount: $300,000
Project Term: 12 months
Project Status: Active
Participating Lab(s): Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory


Inpria Corporation was founded in 2007 to develop the world's most advanced photoresists — the photoreactive patterning materials used in semiconductor manufacturing. Inpria photoresists are designed to support the $300 billion semiconductor industry's emerging patterning and integration requirements by unlocking the full and revolutionary potential of extreme ultraviolet lithography (EUVL). And as the material's lithographic performance improves, less energy is needed in the semiconductor manufacturing process.

But before Inpria photoresists can support EUVL in high volume manufacturing (HVM), the precise demands of integrated circuit manufacturing require an accurate and robust lithography model to develop design rules and layout. A key input into this lithography model is a quantitative understanding of exposure—induced chemical changes and their effect on patterning performance. This information can also help predict and support performance improvements that semiconductor manufacturers may require at future manufacturing nodes.

The Department of Energy's support of this SBV Pilot allows Inpria to access an emerging large area exposure apparatus at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory to conduct critical analyses underpinning these models. This will accelerate Inpria's process cycle times and photoresist optimization for high volume manufacturing of extreme ultraviolet lithography.

Inpria photoresists have demonstrated superior performance to conventional materials on key performance indicators, but customers still seek a path to improved performance for volume manufacturing. An accurate quantitative model of exposure chemistries will guide development and help Inpria achieve this goal. For semiconductor manufacturers, this lithographic product improvement will result in reduced power consumption and higher device integration density.


Photoresists on the market today — polymer-based materials originally developed in the early 1990s for 248-nanometer lithography — use exposure-initiated acid-catalyzed polymer deprotection to record projected patterns. This mature platform is fundamentally limited in several important aspects, and will constrain the performance of EUVL in high volume manufacturing.

Inpria's inorganic metal-oxide photoresists employ a completely different approach to contrast-generating chemistries based on photo-condensable molecular metal oxides uniquely suited for extreme ultraviolet lithography. At approximately one nanometer in diameter, Inpria's core molecules are 1/5 the size of conventional materials, and can absorb 4 to 5 times more EUV photons. They offer 10 times higher etch selectivity, simplifying process integration and enabling new pattern transfer schemes for the most challenging features. Inpria resists have also been integrated into new etch processes, eliminating two separate pattern transfer layers, thereby improving yield and offering customers a simpler manufacturing process.


Employing 250,000 people, the U.S. semiconductor industry is responsible for the third largest American-manufactured export. The semiconductor industry relies on continuous improvements in photoresist performance.

If successful, this SBV Pilot will result in improved quantitative models to guide future product development to meet second-generation lithographic product performance goals. This will lead to reduced process energy use and significant capital cost savings among advanced semiconductor manufacturers.

Domestic photoresist innovations bring long-lasting value to the semiconductor industry. By partnering with the Department of Energy, Inpria can contribute to our collective efforts to further strengthen our country's leadership role in this field.

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