Manufacturing Assembly Technology for Producing Low-Cost MiniSEM Columns
Department of Defense
Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency
Agency Tracking Number:
Solicitation Topic Code:
Small Business Information
1321 N. Plano Road, Suite 200, Richardson, TX, 75081
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged:
Director of Government Al
Director of Government Al
AbstractThis proposal presents a low-cost high-precision method for manufacturing miniaturized e-beam columns, resulting in widespread application in imaging and lithography. While the advantage of downscaling e-beam columns is well known, no commercialapplications have emerged, due in large part to manufacturing difficulties. This project begins with the Etec miniaturized e-beam column design and introduces component designs leading to a low-cost automated manufacturing solution. Although the Eteccolumn is generally not considered ideal for an SEM, its high performance and industry-wide familiarity make it an excellent vehicle for proving manufacturing concepts. We will conduct detailed analyses of the design and assembly process to determine thecolumn's performance within manufacturing tolerances and in a range of environmental conditions. Our proprietary assembly approach, currently the focus of a $25M five-year NIST-ATP award, entails a combination of robotic stages and MEMS actuators,connectors, and parts. Our assembly technology produces robust mechanical and electrical connections with precision dependent upon component tolerances rather than assembly robotics. A major strength of this assembly strategy is the ability to incorporateparallel assembly, dramatically reducing cost. This flexible method further enables a variety of designs meeting the resolution, scan field, and depth of focus needs of many different applications. By developing a flexible, low-cost manufacturing systemcapable of producing a diverse range of high-performance SEM columns, this program benefits an enormous array of industries and researchers. Our proposed manufacturing technology will enable widespread applications of miniaturized e-beam columns throughinexpensive parallel, automated assembly. These low-cost, high-performance columns will make e-beam technology broadly available to single- and multi-column users, previously unable to afford this technology. In single-column use, our technology willcreate the market for a general purpose, tabletop SEM, suitable for use in high school and college labs across the country.
* information listed above is at the time of submission.