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University of Wisconsin–Madison

Upgrade and Replace Several Components on the Nikon Stepper Optical Lithography Instrument in the Nanoscale Fabrication Center


The Nanoscale Fabrication Center (NFC) is a research facility that enables micro/nanofabrication research and development. This core facility supports leading-edge research programs, gives students access to a state-of-the-art education facility, and provides services to industrial clients. In this core facility, researchers fabricate very small and complex structures for microelectronics, quantum electronics, nano-optics, bioelectronics, sensors and related fields.

This project facilitates replacement of several components of an existing instrument, the Nikon i-line step and repeat projection lithography system. The Nikon stepper is used by several research groups to pattern their nanofabricated devices. The stepper is used by many research projects and graduate students to pattern the devices that they are constructing.

The stepper provides unique alignment and pattern resolution capability. This instrument patterns the devices being constructed by exposing light sensitive photoresist to a patterned light source. The stepper exposes a small portion of the substrate at one time. After each exposure, it moves or “steps” to the next area to be exposed. This movement must be precise to within sub-micrometer resolution. The exposure system must be capable of resolving patterns in the sub-micrometer scale. Several components need to be replaced and improved due to age, functionality limitations and repair maintenance restrictions. The 27-year-old control computer is obsolete. The upgrades will extend the life of this system which is critical research on the UW-Madison campus for years to come.


Robert McDermott, professor of physics


Dan Christensen, laboratory manager for the Nanoscale Fabrication Center


Jerry Hunter, core facilities director for the Wisconsin Centers for Nanoscale Technology


Nanoscale Fabrication Center