The EV Group (EVG) and Toppan Photomask want to bring nanoimprint lithography (NIL) to high-volume production, for example for VR glasses, smartphones and automotive sensors.

By Heinz Arnold

Process engineers from EVG's NILPhotonics Competence Center inspect a 200mm wafer on which metal lenses will be fabricated using EVG's NIL process. A master made by Toppan Photomask is used for this.

It is the first time that with ECGa supplier of nanoimprint processing equipment and services and a manufacturer of nanoimprint masters are cooperating. As part of the non-exclusive marketing and technology collaboration, EVG and Toppan Photomask will offer NIL development kits in which Toppan will provide its master templates and EVG will provide its equipment and process development services to accelerate the adoption of NIL technologies into production. In addition, EVG will offer interested companies NIL technology and product demonstrations at EVG's NILPhotonics Competence Center in St. Florian/Austria, the company's headquarters. In addition, the two companies will recommend each other as preferred partners to anyone interested in utilizing NIL in their production chain. The common goal:

Conventional lithography methods reach their limits when it comes to manufacturing products that require the creation of minute and differently shaped patterns, such as metal lenses. NIL is a proven, cost-effective method to create complex patterns with nanometer resolution. A major advantage of NIL is that it can replicate the complex structures very efficiently over large areas with only a few design restrictions. In addition, the process flow is simplified compared to alternative methods, both for prototyping and for high-volume production.

Toppan Photomask manufactures photomasks for the semiconductor industry, such as the one pictured here. 
Nanoimprint Lithography (NIL) masters are fabricated using the same materials, technologies and processes. 

“By working with Toppan Photomask, we can bring nanoimprint lithography into mainstream manufacturing. As a leading supplier of semiconductor photomasks, Toppan Photomask has extensive experience in working with standardized production methods," says Markus Wimplinger, Corporate Technology Development and IP Director of the EV Group.

In addition, EVG's Christine Thanner will give a guest lecture entitled "Nanoimprint - from niche to high-volume manufacturing" on October 5th at the "Nanoimprint and Nanoprint Technology (NNT) Conference" in Toyama, Japan, in which she emphasizes the importance an appropriate combination of NIL mastering techniques, replication facilities and processes.

EVG has pioneered NIL technology for over twenty years and has contributed through partnerships throughout the NIL supply chain, from suppliers of optical materials (such as adhesives and resists), substrate materials and stamp manufacturing to manufacturers of optical components and devices to promote a comprehensive NIL ecosystem.