The Advancements in Deep Ultraviolet Laser Technology

In the realm of science and technology, the utilization of coherent light sources in the deep ultraviolet (DUV) region has significant implications for various applications. These applications include lithography, defect inspection, metrology, and spectroscopy. Traditionally, high-power 193-nanometer (nm) lasers have played a crucial role in lithography, enabling precise patterning within systems. However, conventional ArF excimer lasers have coherence limitations that hinder their effectiveness in applications requiring high-resolution patterns, such as interference lithography.

An innovative solution to the coherence limitations of conventional ArF excimer lasers is the concept of the “hybrid ArF excimer laser.” This hybrid laser integrates a narrow linewidth solid-state 193-nm laser seed in place of the ArF oscillator. By doing so, the coherence of the laser is enhanced, alongside achieving a narrow linewidth. This enhancement enables improved performance in high-throughput interference lithography, boosting pattern precision and accelerating lithography speed. Additionally, the heightened photon energy and coherence of the hybrid laser allow for the direct processing of various materials, including carbon compounds and solids, with minimal thermal impact. This versatility highlights the potential of the hybrid ArF excimer laser in diverse fields, from lithography to laser machining.

To optimize the seeding for an ArF amplifier, the linewidth of the 193-nm seed laser must be meticulously controlled, ideally below 4 gigahertz (GHz). This control of the linewidth is necessary to meet the coherence length required for interference applications. Recent research from the Chinese Academy of Sciences, as reported in Advanced Photonics Nexus, has made significant strides in this area. Researchers have achieved a remarkable 60-milliwatt (mW) solid-state DUV laser at 193 nm, with a narrow linewidth, utilizing a sophisticated two-stage sum frequency generation process employing LBO crystals.

The breakthrough research from the Chinese Academy of Sciences demonstrates the generation of a powerful DUV laser with impressive results. The generated DUV laser, along with its 221-nm counterpart, exhibits an average power of 60 mW, a pulse duration of 4.6 nanoseconds (ns), and a repetition rate of 6 kilohertz (kHz), with a linewidth of approximately 640 megahertz (MHz). This marks the highest power output for both 193- and 221-nm lasers generated by an LBO crystal, along with the narrowest linewidth reported for a 193-nm laser. Notably, the research achieved outstanding conversion efficiency values, setting new benchmarks in efficiency for 221 to 193 nm and 258 to 193 nm.

The research conducted by the Chinese Academy of Sciences not only pushes the boundaries of DUV laser technology but also holds promise for revolutionizing various applications across scientific and industrial domains. According to Prof. Hongwen Xuan, the corresponding author for the research, the advancements in generating narrow-linewidth lasers at 193 nm using solid-state lasers and LBO crystals open up new possibilities for cost-effective, high-power DUV laser systems. These advancements signify the immense potential of LBO crystals in generating DUV lasers at power levels ranging from hundreds of milliwatts to watts, paving the way for exploring other DUV laser wavelengths.

Overall, the advancements in deep ultraviolet laser technology represent a significant leap forward in achieving enhanced precision, speed, and versatility in various applications. The integration of solid-state laser technologies and LBO crystals in the generation of DUV lasers demonstrates the potential for transformative advancements in the field of laser technology.

Science

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