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Computer aided patterning design for Self-Assembled Microsphere Lithography (SA-MSL)

Lees, Rhiannon and Cooke, Michael and Balocco, Claudio and Gallant, Andrew (2019) 'Computer aided patterning design for Self-Assembled Microsphere Lithography (SA-MSL).', Scientific reports., 9 . p. 12849.


In this paper, we use a finite difference time domain solver to simulate the near field optical properties of self-assembled microsphere arrays when exposed to an incoherent light source. Such arrays are typically used for microsphere lithography where each sphere acts as a ball lens, focusing ultraviolet light into an underlying photoresist layer. It is well known that arrays of circular features can be patterned using this technique. However, here, our simulations show that additional nanometer scale features can be introduced to the pattern by optimising the sphere dimensions and exposure conditions. These features are shown to arise from the contact points between the microspheres which produce paths for light leakage. For hexagonally close packed arrays, the six points of contact lead to star shapes in the photoresist. These star shapes have subfeature sizes comparable to the current achievable resolution of low-cost fabrication techniques.

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Publisher statement:This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons license and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this license, visit
Date accepted:09 August 2019
Date deposited:06 September 2019
Date of first online publication:06 September 2019
Date first made open access:06 September 2019

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