Near-field optical "rolling mask lithography" technique promises cost effective large-area nanomanufacturing

Feb. 9, 2009
Rolith Inc., (Dublin, CA) says it is developing a new concept in nanolithography for large-scale manufacture of advanced products such as high-efficiency solar cells, flat panel displays, and LEDs. The company claims that its "rolling mask lithography" method will produce nanostructures on square meters of rigid or flexible materials with high throughput and reduced cost. The method is based on a novel implementation of near-field optical lithography.

A startup company, Rolith Inc., (Dublin, CA) says it is developing a new concept of nanolithography for large-scale production of advanced products such as high efficiency solar cells, flat panel displays, and LEDs. The company claims that its "rolling mask lithography" method will produce nanostructures on square meters of rigid or flexible materials with high throughput and reduced cost. The method is based on a novel implementation of near-field optical lithography that promises reliability for fabrication of nanostructures beyond the diffraction limit.

The rolling mask concept allows for accurate control the distance between a mask and a substrate, and seamless scaling of the exposure process to large substrate areas, Rolith says. The system comprises a cylinder-shaped optically transparent mask with a light source and a nanostructure on its surface; exposure is performed in a continuous dynamic mode while cylinder is rolling on the surface of a substrate material. Contact between the rolling mask and substrate is limited to one narrow line. The approach promises significant advantage in cost, throughput and scalability over nanoimprint lithography.

Rolith plans to make equipment that uses its nanolithography method as well as special photomasks used in the process. It also intends to provide foundry services in which it will make the nanostructures itself. The company is seeking a seed round of investment ($1.5-2M) to build a prototype of the system.

CEO and founder of Rolith, Dr. Boris Kobrin, was a member of the founding team at Applied Microstructures, where he pioneered nanotechnology equipment development. Previously he was involved in optical MEMS, phase masks and laser lithography development at Onix Microsystems and Rochester Photonics Corp; and semiconductor etch and deposition equipment development at Plasma-Therm, Inc.

CTO and co-founder Dr. Mark Brongersma is an Associate Professor in the Department of Material Science and Engineering at Stanford University. He co-coined the term "plasmonics," and pioneered research in nanoscale devices (plasmonic nanostructures).

Immediate applications of Rolith's technology include sub-wavelength and anti-reflective coatings and light absorption layers for solar cells, and advanced coatings for flat panel diplays and architectural glass products.

For more information see Rolith's website.

About the Author

Barbara Gefvert | Editor-in-Chief, BioOptics World (2008-2020)

Barbara G. Gefvert has been a science and technology editor and writer since 1987, and served as editor in chief on multiple publications, including Sensors magazine for nearly a decade.

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