Es, M., Tamer, M., Bloem, R., Fillinger, L., Zeijl, E., Maturová, K., Donck, J., Willekers, R., Maas, D.,
Patterning photoresist with extreme control over dose and placement is the first crucial step in semiconductor manufacturing. But, how to accurately measure the activation of modern complex resists components at sufficient spatial resolution? No exposed nanometre-scale resist pattern is sufficiently sturdy to unaltered withstand inspection by intense photon or electron beams, not even after processing and development. This paper presents experimental proof that Infra-Red Atomic Force Microscopy (IR-AFM) is sufficiently sensitive and gentle to chemically record the vulnerable-yet-valuable lithographic patterns in a chemically amplified resist after exposure, prior to development. Accordingly, IR-AFM metrology provides the long-sought-for insights in changes in the chemical and spatial distribution per component in a latent resist image, both directly after exposure as well as during processing. With these to-be-gained understandings, a disruptive acceleration of resist design and processing is expected.