Combining thermal scanning probe lithography and dry etching for grayscale nanopattern amplification

12 July 2023, Version 1
This content is a preprint and has not undergone peer review at the time of posting.


Grayscale structured surfaces with nanometer-scale features are used in a growing number of applications in optics and fluidics. Thermal scanning probe lithography achieves a lateral resolution below 10 nm and a vertical resolution below 1 nm, but its maximum depth in polymers is limited. Here, we present an innovative combination of nanowriting in thermal resist and plasma dry etching with substrate cooling, which achieves up to 10-fold amplification of polymer nanopatterns into SiO2 without additional surface roughness. Sinusoidal nanopatterns in SiO2 with 400 nm pitch and 150 nm depth are fabricated free of shape distortion after dry etching. To exemplify the possible applications of the proposed method, grayscale dielectric nanostructures are used for scalable manufacturing through nanoimprint lithography and for strain nanoengineering of 2D materials. Such method for high aspect ratio and smooth grayscale nanopatterning has the potential to find application in the fabrication of photonic and nanoelectronic devices.


Grayscale nanolithography
thermal scanning probe lithography
dry etching
nanoimprint lithography
2D materials
strain engineering

Supplementary materials

Supporting Information
Additional process details and experiments.


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