For more than 50 years, the semiconductor industry has been hard at work developing advanced technologies that have led to the amazing increases in computing power and energy efficiency that have improved our lives. A primary way the industry has achieved these remarkable performance gains has been by finding ways to decrease the size of the semiconductor devices in microchips. However, with semiconductor feature sizes now approaching only a few nanometers—just a few hundred atoms—it has become increasingly challenging to sustain continued device miniaturization.

To address the challenges associated with fabricating even smaller microchip components, the is currently transitioning to a more powerful fabrication method—extreme ultraviolet (EUV) lithography. EUV lithography employs light that is only 13.5 nanometers in wavelength to form tiny circuit patterns in a photoresist, the light-sensitive material integral to the lithography process.

The photoresist is the template for forming the nanoscale circuit patterns in the silicon semiconductor. As EUV lithography begins paving the way for the future, scientists are faced with the hurdle of identifying the most effective resist materials for this new era of nanofabrication.

In an effort to address this need, a team of scientists at the Center for Functional Nanomaterials (CFN)—a U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science User Facility at DOE's Brookhaven National Laboratory—has designed a new light-sensitive, organic–inorganic hybrid material that enables high-performance patternability by EUV lithography. Their results were recently published in Advanced Materials Interfaces.

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