On the assessment by grazing-incidence small-angle X-ray scattering of replica quality in polymer gratings fabricated by nanoimprint lithography

Grazing-incidence small-angle X-ray scattering (GISAXS) can be used to characterize the replica quality of polymer gratings prepared by thermal nanoimprint lithography (NIL). Here it is shown using GISAXS experiments that a series of NIL polymer gratings with different line quality present characteristic features that can be associated with the level of defects per line. Both stamps and NIL polymer gratings exhibit characteristic semicircle-like GISAXS patterns. However NIL polymer gratings with defective lines exhibit GISAXS patterns with an excess of diffuse scattering as compared to those of the corresponding stamps. In a first approach, this effect is attributed to a reduction of the effective length of the lines diffracting coherently as the number of defects per line increases.