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Press Release 12-183

Semiconductor Etch Without the Sketch

For the first time, researchers watch and control 3D semiconductor etching in real time, a potential time and resource saver for industry

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False color 3-D image of the height profile of UI logo etched in gallium-arsenide.

This is a false color 3-D image that represents the height profile of the University of Illinois logo etched onto the surface of a gallium-arsenide semiconductor substrate. The image was captured in situ during wet etching using epi-illumination diffraction phase microscopy (epi-DPM) with a laser source. A 5x objective was used and provided a 320 micron by 240 micron field of view. The total etch depth, i.e. the height difference between the orange and purple regions, was approximately 250 nanometers after the 45 second etch. The diagonal line in the lower left corner may be a scratch in the sample.

Credit: Chris Edwards, Amir Arbabi, Gabriel Popescu, and Lynford Goddard, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign


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This video combines multiple frames captured in situ during wet etching using epi-illumination diffraction phase microscopy (epi-DPM) with a laser source. To capture the images, the researchers used a 5x objective and provided a 320 micron by 240 micron field of view. The total etch depth--the height difference between the orange and purple regions--was approximately 250 nanometers after the 45 second etch. The diagonal line in the lower left corner may be a scratch in the sample. The images are false color and 3-D and represent the height profile of the University of Illinois logo etched onto the surface of a gallium-arsenide semiconductor substrate.

Credit: Chris Edwards, Amir Arbabi, Gabriel Popescu, and Lynford Goddard, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign