EVGNEWS Issue 1 2015

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NILPhotonics™ Competence Center 

EVG's recently established NILPhotonics™ Competence Center is a flexible cooperation model to leverage the company's equipment and process know-how gained through many years of experience to support the diversified needs of the photonics market. It is EVG's goal to develop customer and industry partnerships, conjointly overcome challenges and shorten the time to market for innovative photonic devices and applications.

There is a particular focus on making the benefits of NIL accessible to the photonics community as it has proven to be an enabling solution for a number of novel photonic devices. EVG has a global partner network to draw from to support its customers' process integration and optimization efforts across the NIL infrastructure, including template, resist materials and supporting metrology. Multidisciplinary teams provide an in-depth understanding of material interactions and surface chemistry as well as process and equipment requirements for scaling from first feasibility to volume production. As a result, EVG is able to provide consultation and support during process development and ramp-up to pilot manufacturing.

Photonic and plasmonic applications are undergoing a period of rapid growth where new ideas and developments appear literally on a daily basis. Much progress in photonics has been made using the existing fabrication infrastructure of the semiconductor industry to enable new functionalities, smaller form factors, improved performance and reduced costs.

However, the majority of today's semiconductor technology is used in the development of electronics, which are based on controlling the flow of electrons rather than photons. Printing, or nanopatterning, of electronics is mainly a question of scaling to smaller geometries. In contrast, the nanoscale manipulation of light is at the core of developing the full potential of photonic devices, where often shape, size and periodicity of the structures are the key parameters.

Recent progress in NIL has proven its volume manufacturing capability for printing photonic structures, and it can adapt to the needs of the fragmented and less standardized photonics market more easily. In order to enable short time to market, EVG has implemented the NILPhotonics Competence Center.

Despite all of its advantages such as direct patterning of 3D structures, robustness against wafer warp or bow, and large area patterning, NIL is still seen by some to have a high hurdle of entry into volume manufacturing compared to standard lithography techniques. As EVG's equipment and process know-how has already proven the volume manufacturing capability of NIL, it is the goal of EVG's NILPhotonics Competence Center to make the benefits of this technology more easily accessible within a flexible cooperation model.

In addition to its equipment and process expertise, EVG has a global partner network to draw from to support its customers' process integration and optimization efforts across the NIL infrastructure, including template, resist materials and supporting metrology. Multidisciplinary teams provide an in-depth understanding of material interactions and surface chemistry as well as process and equipment requirements for scaling from first feasibility to volume production. As a result, EVG is able to provide consultation and support during process development and ramp-up to pilot manufacturing.

EVG's imprinting solutions support a wide range of processes, including UV-NIL, hot embossing, µ-contact printing and lens molding. Equipment capabilities support full-field, step-and-repeat as well as roll-to-roll patterning. EVG's wide variety of imprint techniques and knowledge across the entire imprint development chain enables EVG to optimize its customers' processes to match their dedicated device needs, thereby facilitating the implementation of novel photonic structures. This kind of cooperation has already proven its success in several projects that are in volume production today.

The buildup expertise is now brought together in a flexible cooperation model, namely the NILPhotonics Competence Center, providing a wide range of capabilities.

Master Templates

  • SU-8 mastering
  • S&R mastering
  • Wide network of stamp suppliers


Materials Know-How

EVG offers optimization of working-stamp and imprint resin interaction to meet:

  • Applications requirements
  • Layout requirements
  • Productivity and low Cost of Ownership (CoO)

Process Development

Definition and development of customized processes

  • UV-NIL
  • Hot embossing
  • Micro-contact printing
  • Lens molding


Sample Processing

  • Feasibility testing
  • Manufacturability demonstrations
  • Qualification runs
  • Small production run imprint services
  • Scale-up to pilot-line production


Metrology Infrastructure

  • Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM)
  • Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM)
  • Interferometry
  • Wide network of metrology providers


Pilot Line Manufacturing

For seamless transition from R&D to production, EVG offers pilot-line production services as well as process transfer to customer-designated volume-manufacturing sites.

While the NILPhotonics Competence Center is primarily focused on imprinting technologies, it is not limited to them. For example, wafer bonding is a key process technology for several photonic applications. In particular, the heterogeneous integration of optical elements as well as wafer bonding for optical MEMS are both gaining increased importance. As the challenges of optical MEMS manufacturing can differ from traditional MEMS devices, EVG's wafer bonding expertise is advantageous to move novel device concepts out of the lab and into the fab. EVG's latest  wafer bonding developments such as its ComBond technology can even enable new integration schemes, since direct bond interfaces can now be electrically conductive and optical transparent.

EVG aims to leverage its core competencies to support the diversified needs of the photonics market. It is the company's goal to partner up, conjointly overcome challenges and shorten the time to market for innovative photonic devices and applications.

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EV Group Headquarters 

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EVG® NILPhotonics™ Competence Center Cleanroom