A system to fabricate precise, high aspect ratio polymeric molds by photolithograpic process is described. The molds for producing micro-scale parts from engineering materials by the LIGA process. The invention is a developer system for developing a PMMA photoresist having exposed patterns comprising features having both very small sizes, and very high aspect ratios. The developer system of the present invention comprises a developer tank, an intermediate rinse tank and a final rinse tank, each tank having a source of high frequency sonic agitation, temperature control, and continuous filtration. It has been found that by moving a patterned wafer, through a specific sequence of developer/rinse solutions, where an intermediate rinse solution completes development of those portions of the exposed resist left undeveloped after the development solution, by agitating the solutions with a source of high frequency sonic vibration, and by adjusting and closely controlling the temperatures and continuously filtering and recirculating these solutions, it is possible to maintain the kinetic dissolution of the exposed PMMA polymer as the rate limiting step.
The United States Government has rights in this invention pursuant to Contract No. DE-AC04-94AL85000 between the United States Department of Energy and the Sandia Corporation for the operation of the Sandia National Laboratories.