Suspended micromechanical structures are typically formed by dissolving underlying spacer material. However, capillary force-induced collapse during solvent removal can damage soft structures. If instead capillary forces are directed in the plane, they can drive liquid polymeric bridges to directly transform into suspended fibers. The various capillary force-directed methods for fabricating arrays of suspended fibers have suffered from either low manufacturing rates or an inability to produce arbitrary patterns. Shape transformation photolithography (STP) demonstrated herein is a method of producing arbitrarily patterned arrays of suspended fibers that are potentially capable of high fabrication rates. In STP, holes are prepatterned in a polymer nanofilm supported on a micropillar array, and then the film is heated above its glass transition temperature. First, the holes expand by dewetting and then capillary forces drive thinning of the polymer channels defined by the holes. Prepatterning overcomes the energy barrier for hole nucleation and ensures that all fibers form at the same time and with similar diameters. Arrays of fibers and fiber lattice networks are formed from dyed polystyrene films that are patterned with nanosecond laser pulses at 532 nm. The exposure threshold for forming holes is 10.5 mJ/cm2 for single pulses and 3.3 mJ/cm2 per pulse for repetitive pulsing, which is only about 3× larger than the dose available from current 193 nm wafer-stepping projection printers that are used in device manufacture. With the increased absorption of polystyrene at 193 nm and with additional proposed material modifications to the thin film, it may even be possible to employ STP in production wafer steppers at economically feasible manufacturing rates of over 50 wafers/h.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Chemical Engineering(all)