Mary Gates Research Scholar, Winter 2022
Research Project: Photoresist Materials for Extreme Ultraviolet Lithography
Project Description: Semiconductors are integral to the production of many consumer electronics including vehicles, smart phones, and computers. As electronic devices have trended towards thinner designs, research efforts have focused on developing photoresists with a higher density of features to create microprocessors with a higher density of transistors. In the photolithography process, designs are created on photoresists by placing a patterned photomask over the material and exposing it to light, traditionally in the ultraviolet range of 100-400 nm. Exposure to UV results in a degradation of the non-masked areas. Subsequent exposure to solvents removes either the exposed or masked areas of the photoresist layer, depending on the photoresist design.
My project involves fabrication of novel hybrid organic-inorganic thin films via molecular layer deposition for use as photoresists. The goal is to produce photoresists sensitive to extreme ultraviolet light in order to further reduce feature size on transistors. Suitability of the thin films for use as photoresists is determined by measuring film degradation subsequent to solvent and light exposures.
What have you learned throughout your research project?
This research experience has been an exceptional opportunity to further develop project design, presentation, experimental research, and hard lab skills. Working in the Bergsman lab has expanded my scientific and research related vocabulary, taught me to organize and communicate about my work with greater clarity, and improved my public speaking skills. The window it’s provided into the world of research has cemented my resolve to pursue a PhD and future career in research.
What piece of advice do you have for future applicants?
Factor in time at the start of your project to become acquainted with your area of research. Spending a few weeks learning about fundamental concepts, processes, and current work in the areas related to your project can save a lot of time later on when you inevitably experience some challenges and need to problem solve your way through them.
Don’t be afraid to fail, and most importantly, ask questions! Use this opportunity to learn as much as you can from your mentors. You can only get as much from this experience as you put into it.