Structuring of photosensitive material below diffraction limit using far field irradiation
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- Yadavalli, N.S., Saphiannikova, M., Lomadze, N. et al. Appl. Phys. A (2013) 113: 263. doi:10.1007/s00339-013-7945-3
In this paper, we report on in-situ atomic force microscopy (AFM) studies of topographical changes in azobenzene-containing photosensitive polymer films that are irradiated with light interference patterns. We have developed an experimental setup consisting of an AFM combined with two-beam interferometry that permits us to switch between different polarization states of the two interfering beams while scanning the illuminated area of the polymer film, acquiring corresponding changes in topography in-situ. This way, we are able to analyze how the change in topography is related to the variation of the electrical field vector within the interference pattern. It is for the first time that with a rather simple experimental approach a rigorous assignment can be achieved. By performing in-situ measurements we found that for a certain polarization combination of two interfering beams [namely for the SP (↕, ↔) polarization pattern] the topography forms surface relief grating with only half the period of the interference patterns. Exploiting this phenomenon we are able to fabricate surface relief structures with characteristic features measuring only 140 nm, by using far field optics with a wavelength of 491 nm. We believe that this relatively simple method could be extremely valuable to, for instance, produce structural features below the diffraction limit at high-throughput, and this could significantly contribute to the search of new fabrication strategies in electronics and photonics industry.