Selection of UV-resins for nanostructured molds for thermal-NIL

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Nanoimprint molds made of soft polymeric materials have advantages of low demolding force and low fabrication cost over Si or metal-based hard molds. However, such advantages are often sacrificed by their reduced replication fidelity associated with the low mechanical strength. In this paper, we studied replication fidelity of different UV-resin molds copied from a Si master mold via UV nanoimprint lithography (NIL) and their thermal imprinting performance into a thermoplastic polymer. Four different UV-resins were studied: two were high surface energy UV-resins based on tripropyleneglycol diacrylate (TPGDA resin) and polypropyleneglycol diacrylate (PPGDA resin), and the other two were commercially available, low surface energy poly-urethane acrylate (PUA resin) and fluorine-containing (MD 700) UV-resins. The replication fidelity among the four UV-resins during UV nanoimprint lithograph from a Si master with sharp nanostructures was in the increasing order of (poorest) PUA resin < MD 700 < PPGDA resin < TPGDA resin (best). The results show that the high surface energy and small monomer size are keys to achieving good UV-resin filling into sharp nanostructures over the viscosity of the resin solution. When the four UV-resin molds were used for thermal-NIL into a thermoplastic polymer, the replication fidelity was in the increasing order of (poorest) MD 700 < TPGDA resin < PUA resin (best), which follows the same order of their Young's moduli. Our results indicate that the selection of an appropriate UV-resin for NIL molds requires consideration of the replication fidelities in the mold fabrication and the subsequent thermal-NIL into thermoplastic polymers.

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