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Real-time Tabletop X-ray Nanoscope

TECHNOLOGY AREA(S): Electronics, Materials/Processes OBJECTIVE: Design and develop a tabletop-scale, real-time nanoscope for three-dimensional imaging with ~13 nanometer spatial resolution. DESCRIPTION: There is a critical DoD need for the development of next generation microelectronics along with the supporting metrology infrastructure for their cost- effective fabrication. Maintaining state-of-the-art microelectronics is key to future DoD technology dominance. New sources of soft x-ray and extreme ultraviolet radiation are key to the development of nondestructive imaging technologies necessary for nanometrology in support of extreme ultraviolet photolithography and ultimately for an understanding of nanoscale phenomena in fields as diverse as next generation electronics and subcellular biological structure and function. Properties such as short wavelengths allowing for high spatial resolution, deep sample penetration depth, and elemental specificity deployed in nondestructive imaging modalities without invasive sample preparation have been exploited in laboratory proof-of-concept demonstrations. However, bright sources with imaging capabilities at or below ~13 nm are largely limited to user facility-scale synchrotrons and free electron lasers, limiting the wider impact of soft xray/extreme ultraviolet imaging and spectroscopy. Recent advances in efficient generation of laser-driven, high flux soft x-ray and extreme ultraviolet radiation and efficient x-ray/extreme ultraviolet imaging modalities demonstrate that the required performance specifications for a ~13 nm spatial resolution nanoscope with table-top form factor are now within reach. PHASE I: Design a tabletop-scale nanoscope for real-time imaging at ~13 nm spatial resolution. Source wavelength should also be at or below 13 nm (i.e. for actinic mask inspection). Source design parameters, including soft xray/extreme ultraviolet flux, efficiencies, and imaging modality/acquisition should be driven by the requirements for:Real-time three-dimensional image acquisition (including both data acquisition and image processing). Proposers should quantitatively define real-time image acquisition and update speed/frame rate in the context of the proposed design;Adaptability for imaging a variety of specimens in multiple environments: i.e., the nanoscope technology should be agnostic to the imaged sample without requiring invasive sample preparation to the extent possible. Specific samples of interest include, but are not limited to, nanostructured electronics under test or cryogenically cooled, unsectioned biological samples, requiring large working distances of several centimeters and wide field of view, as well as the ability to image internal/buried structures in thick, >1 micron, samples. Proposers may identify additional applications and specimens for imaging.Proposers may also identify applications beyond single wavelength imaging to exploit source coherence, spectral tunability (chemically selective/hyperspectral imaging and spectroscopy), and temporal resolution for ultrafast dynamics.Phase I deliverables include a design review (soft x-ray/extreme ultraviolet source, sample staging/imaging apparatus, imaging modality and associated image acquisition electronics) including expected design performance and a report presenting Phase II plans. Experimental data demonstrating feasibility of the proposed device is favorable. PHASE II: Fabricate and test a prototype device demonstrating the performance outlined in Phase I. The Phase II prototype must integrate all key subsystems and demonstrate performance in a tabletop-scale form factor at Technology Readiness Level 4: component/subsystem validation in a laboratory environment.Phase II deliverables include validation of device performance by imaging a sample nanostructured semiconductor specimen provided by or arranged for by DARPA with spatial resolution and frame rate as defined in the Phase I report. Selected teams will work with the DARPA program manager to arrange for delivery and test of validation samples. PHASE III DUAL USE APPLICATIONS: Given the large demand for x-ray microscopy at x-ray free electron lasers and third generation synchrotrons, the proposed tabletop nanoscope will serve as a prototype for commercial systems to be installed directly into the user?s laboratory or industrial facility. The application space for nanoscale microscopy includes fields as diverse as biology (subcellular imaging), electronics (semiconductor devices), and materials science (fracture and crack formation, engineered microstructures). The push for extreme ultraviolet photolithography, for example, has resulted in the installation of microscope beamlines for mask inspection at synchrotron sources (SEMATECH Berkeley Actinic Inspection Tool at the Advanced Light Source and the EUV Microscope at NewSUBARU).The DoD will directly benefit from the new physical insights made possible by the development of tabletop-scale nanoscopes with 13 nanometer resolution, leading to next generation microelectronics along with the supporting metrology infrastructure for their cost- effective fabrication. The introduction of x-ray/extreme ultraviolet nanoscopes into biology and biochemistry laboratories will enable a better understanding of pathogens on the subcellular level. KEYWORDS: x-ray microscope, soft x-ray, extreme ultraviolet, x-ray imaging, x-ray laser, coherent diffractive imaging, nanoscope POINTS OF CONTACT: Dr. Prem Kumar, Phone: 703-526-2709, Email: prem.kumar@darpa.mil; Dr. Enrique Parra, Phone: 703-696-8571, Email: enrique.parra@us.af.mil

  • Agency: Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency,Department of Defense,Department of Defense
  • Program: STTR
  • Phase: Phase I
  • Release Date: August 27, 2015
  • Open Date: September 28, 2015
  • Close Date: October 28, 2015
  • URL: https://sbir.defensebusiness.org/topics
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