Abstract

For acquiring high-contrast and high-brightness images in hard-x-ray optics, Fresnel zone plates with high aspect ratios (zone height/zone width) have been constantly pursued. However, knowledge of aspect ratio limits remains limited. This work explores the achievable aspect ratio limit in polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA) by electron-beam lithography (EBL) under 100 keV, and investigates the lithographic factors for this limitation. Both Monte Carlo simulation and EBL on thick PMMA are applied to investigate the profile evolution with exposure doses over 100 nm wide dense zones. A high-resolution scanning electron microscope at low acceleration mode for charging free is applied to characterize the resultant zone profiles. It was discovered for what we believe is the first time that the primary electron-beam spreading in PMMA and the proximity effect due to extra exposure from neighboring areas could be the major causes of limiting the aspect ratio. Using the optimized lithography condition, a 100 nm zone plate with aspect ratio of 15/1 was fabricated and its focusing property was characterized at the Shanghai Synchrotron Radiation Facility. The aspect ratio limit found in this work should be extremely useful for guiding further technical development in nanofabrication of high-quality Fresnel zone plates.

© 2015 Optical Society of America

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