Photoresist materials enable the fabrication of advanced integrated circuits with ever-decreasing feature sizes. As next-generation light sources are developed, using extreme ultraviolet light of wavelength 13.5 nm, these highly tuned formulations must meet strict image-fidelity criteria to maintain the expected performance gains from decreases in feature size. However, polymer photoresists appear to be reaching resolution limits and advancements in measurements of the in situ formed solid/solid and solid/liquid interface is necessary. This Review focuses on the chemical and physical structure of chemically amplified photoresists at the lithographic feature edge at length scales between 1 nm and 100 nm. Neutron reflectivity measurements provide insight into the nanometer-scale composition profiling of the chemical latent image at an ideal lithographic line-edge that separates optical resolution effects from materials processing effects. Four generations of advanced photoresist formulations were examined over the course of seven years to quantify photoresist/photoacid and photoresist/developer interactions on the fidelity of lithographic features. The outcome of these measurements complement traditional resist design criteria by providing the effects of the impacts of the photoresist and processing on the feature fidelity. These physical relations are also described in the context of novel resist architectures under consideration for next-generation photolithography with extreme-ultraviolet radiation.
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