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This paper describes a process to fabricate monolithic multilevel high-aspect-ratio microstructures (HARMs) for ferromagnetic devices built on silicon wafers using aligned X-ray lithography in conjunction with electrodeposition. Two X-ray masks were fabricated, each consisting of gold (Au) absorber structures on a transparent polyimide membrane. One mask was used to print a polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA) resist layer. Then, a second PMMA layer was applied to the same wafer, and the second mask was used to pattern it. Transparent alignment windows in the second mask, combined with a piezoelectrically controlled X-ray aligner, allowed for high alignment accuracy between the two print patterns over large areas (>4 inch in diameter). Au circuits were electroplated into first PMMA layer from a sulfite-based electrolyte, and nickel-iron (NiFe) ferromagnetic HARMs were formed in second PMMA resist from a sulfate-based bath. The deposition resulted in well-defined NiFe structures with aspect-ratios up to 67:1 as well as smooth sidewalls and top surfaces. Chemical composition measurements with energy X-ray dispersive spectroscopy (EDS) and wavelength X-ray dispersive spectroscopy (WDS) showed that Fe content increased during the electrodeposition process. To electrically isolate the NiFe posts and Au circuits, both wet chemical etching and sputter etching were explored to remove the exposed seed layer, and the latter approach completely removed the seed layers without damaging the electroplated features.
Date of Publication: April 2005