Surface-relief gratings fabricated through nanoimprint lithography (NIL) are prone to topographic distortion induced by resist shrinkage. Characterizing the impact of this effect on blazed diffraction efficiency is particularly important for applications in astrophysical spectroscopy at soft x-ray wavelengths (λ ≈ 0.5 − 5 nm) that call for the mass-production of large-area grating replicas with sub-micron, sawtooth surface-relief profiles. A variant of NIL that lends itself well for this task is substrate-conformal imprint lithography (SCIL), which uses a flexible, composite stamp formed from a rigid master template to imprint nanoscale features in an inorganic resist that cures thermodynamically through a silica sol-gel process. While SCIL enables the production of several hundred imprints before stamp degradation and avoids many of the detriments associated with large-area imprinting in NIL, the sol-gel resist suffers shrinkage dependent on the post-imprint cure temperature. Through atomic force microscopy and diffraction-efficiency testing at beamline 6.3.2 of the Advanced Light Source, the impact of this effect on blaze response is constrained for a ∼160-nm-period grating replica cured at 90°C. Results demonstrate a ∼2° reduction in blaze angle relative to the master grating, which was fabricated by anisotropic wet etching in h311i-oriented silicon to yield a facet angle close to 30°.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
- Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
- Electrical and Electronic Engineering