Innovation and Partnerships Office

Selective Laser Ablation of Block Copolymers 2015-100


High resolution patterning for

  • Semiconductor industry
  • Hard drive production
  • Coating technologies, e.g., for smart windows
  • Circuit designs


  • Enables selective block copolymer removal
  • Higher resolution lithography than other methods
  • Less abrasive technology than currently available


Researchers at Berkeley Lab have introduced a block copolymer lithography (BCPL) technology with selective laser ablation as an alternative to the plasma etching methods currently used. Laser ablation allows for the gentle and efficient removal of specific blocks utilized in the lithography process.

BCPL provides a method for patterning structures as small as 3nm. This process requires the selective removal of one copolymer block followed by the transfer of the pattern on the remaining block onto the desired surface. This first step is currently completed through plasma based dry etching techniques, which avoids pattern distortion but is not possible with all copolymer block systems. Selective laser ablations can be used as an alternative when plasma based techniques cannot successfully remove the selected block. This process allows for greater selectivity and higher resolution patterning on smaller surfaces compared to plasma etching methods. Pattern transfer is increased as laser ablation introduces a gentler and more controllable method for the removal of copolymer blocks containing traces of platinum, which complicates lithography transfer.

This technology will greatly benefit industries looking to increase the resolution of lithography patterns on smaller products that are not compatible with plasma etching processes. As the demand for more compact semiconductor and hard drive technologies grows, it becomes increasingly necessary for lithography techniques to produce high resolution and undistorted patterns. The laser ablation method presented above allows the selective and accurate removal of copolymer blocks as a viable alternative to plasma based etching techniques.

STATUS: Patent pending. Available for licensing or collaborative research.

DEVELOPMENT STAGE: Proven principle. Researchers’ test results described in publication, linked below.


Olynick, D. L., Perera, P., Schwartzberg, A., Kulshreshta, P., DeOteyza, D. G., Jarnagin, N., C. Henderson, C., Sun, Z., Gunkel, I., Russell, T., Budden, M., Rangelow, I. W. “Selective laser ablation in resists and block copolymers for high resolution lithographic patterning,” Journal of Photopolymer Science and Technology, Vol. 28, No. 5, 663-668, 2015.

Oteyza, D. G., Perera, P. N., Schmidt, M., Falch, M., Dhuey, S. D., Harteneck, B. D., Schwatrzberg, A. M., Schuck, P. J., Cabrini, S., Olynick, D. L. Sub-20nm laser ablation for lithographic dry development. Nanotechnology 23 (18), 185301-185306. 2012.