Chemistry Research

This event is limited to the first 15 entries

2017 Topic: Photolithography


Perhaps one of the most notable uses of modern photolithography dates back to the early days of semiconductor manufacturing with the construction of integrated circuits. In this process, light is used to control the pattern and deposition of material onto a given substrate. In semiconductor development this substrate is normally silicon but in other fields it can involve a range of substrates. Considering that semiconductors are so instrumental to modern society, the process that governs their creation is also extremely important. With the demanding requirement to fit more and more microelectronics onto integrated circuits (IC’s) the resolution of the photolithography process becomes ever more critical.


Part 1:  Conduct literature research to address the following 

  • A brief history of photolithography, the current use of photolithography, and the potential future use of photolithography.
  • How a modern process utilizing photolithography works. This should include a brief mention of the necessary steps, equipment, and materials.
  • What are photopolymers and photopolymerization? How can photolithography be used to create three dimensional objects? It may be helpful (but not required) to research compounds such as 1,6-Hexanediol diacrylate.
  • Describe the role of UV light in photolithography techniques. How does it interact with a photoresist in a given photolithography process?
  • How is the resolution of a modern photolithography process limited? What are the factors that limit the resolution? How might you calculate the given resolution of a photolithography setup? Why is knowing and the resolution limits of photolithography important?

Part 2   Conduct original research

  • Design and perform a procedure that utilizes photolithography to:
    • Make a plastic object from a photopolymer with the highest resolution possible. Keep in mind that it would be beneficial to design and make an object that has measureable features.
    • Measure the resolution of the photolithography setup. This data should be reported in the appropriate units, for example “3-5 mm”.
  • Create a “Video Archive” that details the procedure/ experimental setup so that others may learn more about photolithography. This should be a relatively short video (<15 minutes) that shows the viewer what was done throughout the procedure. Although this video is not the central focus of this event - it should be of high enough quality to be posted on Youtube for others to view in the future.

Part 3 - Report of Student Understanding and Research Findings

A research paper that includes information addressing the following and that demonstrates understandings and information from the literature research above. This should include the following:

  • Describe the chemistry involved for the particular photopolymer used in the procedure
  • Discuss the limitations of the device/ setup used along with reasonable suggestions as to how the setup can be improved
  • Discuss why you chose the shape/ object made with the procedure
  • A carefully constructed and labeled table which contains all experimental data/ resolution results
  • Include a link to the “Video Archive” video hosted on YouTube.
  • All reference material should be properly cited and citations should have credibility.

Event Day

Teams will make a short (three minutes) presentation via PowerPoint/ Slides or poster. Teams are expected to bring the object(s) that they created during their research for viewing. Presentations will be scheduled for the morning of the Chemistry Olympics. (6 minutes maximum: 3 minute prepared presentation + 3 minutes Q&A) - This presentation should focus solely on the resolution results in Part 2 and should highlight the students' understanding of the photolithography process. Specific laboratory data collected should be presented to the judges in a graphical/ pictorial manner.  Conclusions from experimentation should be clearly supported by the data provided.



IMPORTANT:  Learn about the requirements concerning Primary Sources, formatting and citations for your research paper: Research Guidelines and Requirements

The Environmental Research Paper must be received by the Director of the NJCO by the deadline indicated in: Requirement Overview


To be determined.