US20090165711A1 - Substrate treating apparatus with substrate reordering - Google Patents

Substrate treating apparatus with substrate reordering Download PDF

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Publication number
US20090165711A1
US20090165711A1 US12/343,302 US34330208A US2009165711A1 US 20090165711 A1 US20090165711 A1 US 20090165711A1 US 34330208 A US34330208 A US 34330208A US 2009165711 A1 US2009165711 A1 US 2009165711A1
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substrate
transport
treating
substrates
exposing machine
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US12/343,302
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Hiroyuki Ogura
Tsuyoshi Mitsuhashi
Yoshiteru Fukutomi
Kenya Morinishi
Yasuo Kawamatsu
Hiromichi Nagashima
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Screen Semiconductor Solutions Co Ltd
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Screen Semiconductor Solutions Co Ltd
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Priority to JP2007-340427 priority Critical
Priority to JP2007340427A priority patent/JP5001828B2/en
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Assigned to SOKUDO CO., LTD. reassignment SOKUDO CO., LTD. ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST (SEE DOCUMENT FOR DETAILS). Assignors: FUKUTOMI, YOSHITERU, KAWAMATSU, YASUO, MORINISHI, KENYA, Nagashima, Hiromichi, MITSUHASHI, TSUYOSHI, OGURA, HIROYUKI
Publication of US20090165711A1 publication Critical patent/US20090165711A1/en
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    • HELECTRICITY
    • H01BASIC ELECTRIC ELEMENTS
    • H01LSEMICONDUCTOR DEVICES; ELECTRIC SOLID STATE DEVICES NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
    • H01L21/00Processes or apparatus adapted for the manufacture or treatment of semiconductor or solid state devices or of parts thereof
    • H01L21/67Apparatus specially adapted for handling semiconductor or electric solid state devices during manufacture or treatment thereof; Apparatus specially adapted for handling wafers during manufacture or treatment of semiconductor or electric solid state devices or components ; Apparatus not specifically provided for elsewhere
    • H01L21/677Apparatus specially adapted for handling semiconductor or electric solid state devices during manufacture or treatment thereof; Apparatus specially adapted for handling wafers during manufacture or treatment of semiconductor or electric solid state devices or components ; Apparatus not specifically provided for elsewhere for conveying, e.g. between different workstations
    • H01L21/67739Apparatus specially adapted for handling semiconductor or electric solid state devices during manufacture or treatment thereof; Apparatus specially adapted for handling wafers during manufacture or treatment of semiconductor or electric solid state devices or components ; Apparatus not specifically provided for elsewhere for conveying, e.g. between different workstations into and out of processing chamber
    • H01L21/67745Apparatus specially adapted for handling semiconductor or electric solid state devices during manufacture or treatment thereof; Apparatus specially adapted for handling wafers during manufacture or treatment of semiconductor or electric solid state devices or components ; Apparatus not specifically provided for elsewhere for conveying, e.g. between different workstations into and out of processing chamber characterized by movements or sequence of movements of transfer devices
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H01BASIC ELECTRIC ELEMENTS
    • H01LSEMICONDUCTOR DEVICES; ELECTRIC SOLID STATE DEVICES NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
    • H01L21/00Processes or apparatus adapted for the manufacture or treatment of semiconductor or solid state devices or of parts thereof
    • H01L21/67Apparatus specially adapted for handling semiconductor or electric solid state devices during manufacture or treatment thereof; Apparatus specially adapted for handling wafers during manufacture or treatment of semiconductor or electric solid state devices or components ; Apparatus not specifically provided for elsewhere
    • H01L21/67005Apparatus not specifically provided for elsewhere
    • H01L21/67011Apparatus for manufacture or treatment
    • H01L21/6715Apparatus for applying a liquid, a resin, an ink or the like
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H01BASIC ELECTRIC ELEMENTS
    • H01LSEMICONDUCTOR DEVICES; ELECTRIC SOLID STATE DEVICES NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
    • H01L21/00Processes or apparatus adapted for the manufacture or treatment of semiconductor or solid state devices or of parts thereof
    • H01L21/67Apparatus specially adapted for handling semiconductor or electric solid state devices during manufacture or treatment thereof; Apparatus specially adapted for handling wafers during manufacture or treatment of semiconductor or electric solid state devices or components ; Apparatus not specifically provided for elsewhere
    • H01L21/67005Apparatus not specifically provided for elsewhere
    • H01L21/67011Apparatus for manufacture or treatment
    • H01L21/67155Apparatus for manufacturing or treating in a plurality of work-stations
    • H01L21/67161Apparatus for manufacturing or treating in a plurality of work-stations characterized by the layout of the process chambers
    • H01L21/67178Apparatus for manufacturing or treating in a plurality of work-stations characterized by the layout of the process chambers vertical arrangement
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H01BASIC ELECTRIC ELEMENTS
    • H01LSEMICONDUCTOR DEVICES; ELECTRIC SOLID STATE DEVICES NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
    • H01L21/00Processes or apparatus adapted for the manufacture or treatment of semiconductor or solid state devices or of parts thereof
    • H01L21/67Apparatus specially adapted for handling semiconductor or electric solid state devices during manufacture or treatment thereof; Apparatus specially adapted for handling wafers during manufacture or treatment of semiconductor or electric solid state devices or components ; Apparatus not specifically provided for elsewhere
    • H01L21/67005Apparatus not specifically provided for elsewhere
    • H01L21/67242Apparatus for monitoring, sorting or marking
    • H01L21/67276Production flow monitoring, e.g. for increasing throughput
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H01BASIC ELECTRIC ELEMENTS
    • H01LSEMICONDUCTOR DEVICES; ELECTRIC SOLID STATE DEVICES NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
    • H01L21/00Processes or apparatus adapted for the manufacture or treatment of semiconductor or solid state devices or of parts thereof
    • H01L21/67Apparatus specially adapted for handling semiconductor or electric solid state devices during manufacture or treatment thereof; Apparatus specially adapted for handling wafers during manufacture or treatment of semiconductor or electric solid state devices or components ; Apparatus not specifically provided for elsewhere
    • H01L21/677Apparatus specially adapted for handling semiconductor or electric solid state devices during manufacture or treatment thereof; Apparatus specially adapted for handling wafers during manufacture or treatment of semiconductor or electric solid state devices or components ; Apparatus not specifically provided for elsewhere for conveying, e.g. between different workstations
    • H01L21/67739Apparatus specially adapted for handling semiconductor or electric solid state devices during manufacture or treatment thereof; Apparatus specially adapted for handling wafers during manufacture or treatment of semiconductor or electric solid state devices or components ; Apparatus not specifically provided for elsewhere for conveying, e.g. between different workstations into and out of processing chamber
    • H01L21/67754Apparatus specially adapted for handling semiconductor or electric solid state devices during manufacture or treatment thereof; Apparatus specially adapted for handling wafers during manufacture or treatment of semiconductor or electric solid state devices or components ; Apparatus not specifically provided for elsewhere for conveying, e.g. between different workstations into and out of processing chamber horizontal transfer of a batch of workpieces
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H01BASIC ELECTRIC ELEMENTS
    • H01LSEMICONDUCTOR DEVICES; ELECTRIC SOLID STATE DEVICES NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
    • H01L21/00Processes or apparatus adapted for the manufacture or treatment of semiconductor or solid state devices or of parts thereof
    • H01L21/67Apparatus specially adapted for handling semiconductor or electric solid state devices during manufacture or treatment thereof; Apparatus specially adapted for handling wafers during manufacture or treatment of semiconductor or electric solid state devices or components ; Apparatus not specifically provided for elsewhere
    • H01L21/677Apparatus specially adapted for handling semiconductor or electric solid state devices during manufacture or treatment thereof; Apparatus specially adapted for handling wafers during manufacture or treatment of semiconductor or electric solid state devices or components ; Apparatus not specifically provided for elsewhere for conveying, e.g. between different workstations
    • H01L21/67739Apparatus specially adapted for handling semiconductor or electric solid state devices during manufacture or treatment thereof; Apparatus specially adapted for handling wafers during manufacture or treatment of semiconductor or electric solid state devices or components ; Apparatus not specifically provided for elsewhere for conveying, e.g. between different workstations into and out of processing chamber
    • H01L21/6776Continuous loading and unloading into and out of a processing chamber, e.g. transporting belts within processing chambers

Abstract

A treating section has substrate treatment lines arranged one over the other for treating substrates while transporting the substrates substantially horizontally. An IF section transports the substrates fed from each substrate treatment line to an exposing machine provided separately from this apparatus. The substrates are transported to the exposing machine in the order in which the substrates are loaded into the treating section. The throughput of this apparatus can be improved greatly, without increasing the footprint, since the substrate treatment lines are arranged one over the other. Each substrate can be controlled easily since the order of the substrates transported to the exposing machine is in agreement with the order of the substrates loaded into the treating section.

Description

    CROSS-REFERENCES TO RELATED APPLICATIONS
  • This application claims priority to Japanese Patent Application 2007-340427, filed Dec. 28, 2007. The disclosure of JP 2007-340427 is hereby incorporated by reference its entirety for all purposes.
  • BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
  • This invention relates to a substrate treating apparatus for performing a series of treatments of substrates such as semiconductor wafers, glass substrates for liquid crystal displays, glass substrates for photomasks, and substrates for optical disks (hereinafter called simply “substrates”).
  • Conventionally, this type of substrate treating apparatus is used to form a resist film on substrates and develop the substrates exposed in a separate exposing machine. The apparatus includes a treating section having, arranged therein, a treating block for forming film such as resist film, a treating block for developing the substrates, and so on. Each treating block includes a single main transport mechanism and various treating units. The main transport mechanism of each block, while transporting substrates to the treating units in that block, transfers the substrates to and from the main transport mechanism of another, adjacent treating block. An interface section is provided for the treating block located at one end. The exposing machine separate from this apparatus is disposed adjacent to the interface section. The interface section transports substrates between the treating section and the exposing machine.
  • In the conventional apparatus having the above construction, the treating section carries out a series of treatments for forming resist film and the like on the substrates, and then feeds the substrates to the interface section. The interface section transports the substrates to the exposing machine. The treating section treats the substrates in an order in which the substrates are loaded into the treating section. Thus, the order of the substrates fed from the treating section to the interface section is the same as the order of the substrates loaded into the treating section. The interface section transfers the substrates received from the treating section directly to the exposing machine. Consequently, the substrates are transported to the exposing machine in the order of loading into the treating section. The exposing machine exposes the substrates transported thereto and feeds them back to the interface section. The interface section transports the substrates received from the exposing machine to the treating section, which then develops these substrates.
  • Although the series of treatments includes also the treatment in the exposing machine separate from this apparatus, the substrates are transported in the same order to each treating block and the exposing machine. It is therefore easy to manage and control each substrate, and to conduct a follow-up check on the treatment history of each substrate, for example (as disclosed in Japanese Unexamined Patent Publication No. 2003-324139, for example).
  • The conventional apparatus with such a construction has the following drawbacks.
  • In the conventional apparatus, each treating block has only a single main transport mechanism, making it difficult to improve the throughput of the entire apparatus significantly. On the other hand, it is conceivable to increase the number of main transport mechanisms in each treating block and to provide a plurality of substrate transport paths in the treating section to enable parallel treatment of substrates. With such a treating section, however, the different transport paths could produce an inequality in time taken from introduction into the treating section to feeding to the interface section. The order of substrates transported from the interface section to the exposing machine may not be the same as the order of loading into the treating section. This will result in an inconvenience that the control of each substrate and a follow-up check on the treatment history of each substrate cannot be conducted reliably.
  • SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
  • This invention has been made having regard to the state of the art noted above. Its object is to provide a substrate treating apparatus that can effectively control the order of substrates transported from a treating section to a separate exposing machine even where the treating section has a plurality of substrate transport paths.
  • The above object is fulfilled, according to this invention, by a substrate treating apparatus comprising a treating section including a plurality of substrate treatment lines for treating substrates while transporting the substrates substantially horizontally, the substrate treatment lines being capable of treating the substrates in parallel; and an interface section disposed adjacent the treating section for transporting the substrates fed from the substrate treatment lines to an exposing machine provided separately from the apparatus; wherein the substrates are transported to the exposing machine in the order in which the substrates are loaded into the treating section.
  • According to this invention, the treating section has a plurality of substrate treatment lines to improve the throughput of the substrate treating apparatus significantly. The substrates can receive treatment in the substrate treatment lines in parallel, and can be transported to the exposing machine in the order in which the substrates are loaded into the treating section. Since the order of the substrates transported to the exposing machine is the same as the order in which the substrates are loaded into the treating section, each substrate can be controlled easily. A follow-up check can also be performed easily on the history of treatment of each substrate in the treating section or in the exposing machine.
  • In the invention noted above, the substrate treatment lines may be arranged one over another. The substrate treatment lines arranged one over another can prevent an enlarged footprint of the apparatus.
  • In the invention noted above, the interface section may be arranged to adjust the order of the substrates fed from the substrate treatment lines to the order in which the substrates are loaded into the treating section. With the interface section arranged to adjust the order of the substrates fed from the substrate treatment lines, there is no need to adjust timing of substrate feeding between the substrate treatment lines. This allows each of the substrate treatment lines to proceed with treatment of the substrates independently.
  • In the invention noted above, the interface section may include an interface transport mechanism for transporting the substrates to and from each of the substrate treatment lines and the exposing machine and a buffer unit for temporarily storing the substrates. The interface transport mechanism is arranged to receive a substrate from the substrate treatment lines, to transport the substrate received to the exposing machine when the substrate is the next substrate to be transported to the exposing machine, and to place the substrate received in the buffer unit when the substrate is different from the next substrate to be transported to the exposing machine. When one of the substrate treatment lines feeds a substrate, the interface section will receive the substrate. This enables the substrate treatment line to feed a new substrate. Thus, the substrate treatment line can feed the substrates promptly after the treatment, thereby preventing a lowering of the throughput of the substrate treating apparatus. The interface section has the buffer unit and when a substrate fed from one of the substrate treatment lines is not the next one to be transported to the exposing machine the substrate is temporarily put on standby in the buffer unit. Thus, the order of the substrates fed from the treating section can be adjusted conveniently in the interface section.
  • The “next substrate to be transported to the exposing machine” means the substrate to be transported to the exposing machine after the substrate that has already been transported to the exposing machine when the interface transport mechanism interface receives a substrate fed from one of the substrate treatment lines.
  • In the invention noted above, the interface transport mechanism may be arranged to transport a substrate from the buffer unit to the exposing machine when a substrate placed in the buffer unit becomes the next substrate to be transported to the exposing machine. When a substrate placed in the buffer unit becomes the next substrate to be transported to the exposing machine, the interface transport mechanism transports the substrate to the exposing machine. Thus, even where the order of substrates fed from the treating section is different from the order of substrates loaded into the treating section, the order of substrates transported to the exposing machine can be brought into agreement with the order of substrates loaded into the treating section.
  • In the invention noted above, the interface transport mechanism may be arranged to prioritize receiving a substrate being fed from one of the substrate treatment lines above transporting the next substrate currently in the buffer unit to the exposing machine. Then, the substrate treatment lines can always be fed the substrates promptly after the treatment.
  • In the invention noted above, the interface transport mechanism may include a first transport mechanism for transporting the substrates to and from each of the substrate treatment lines and to the buffer unit; and a second transport mechanism for transferring the substrates to and from the first transport mechanism and transporting the substrates to and from the exposing machine. The first transport mechanism is arranged to transfer a substrate received from one of the substrate treatment lines to the second transport mechanism when the substrate is the next substrate to be transported to the exposing machine, to place the received substrate in the buffer unit when the substrate is different from a next substrate to be transported to the exposing machine, and to transfer the next substrate from the buffer unit to the second transport mechanism when a substrate placed in the buffer unit becomes the next substrate to be transported to the exposing machine. The second transport mechanism is arranged to transport a substrate received from the first transport mechanism to the exposing machine. The interface transport mechanism includes a first transport mechanism for receiving the substrates fed from the substrate treatment lines and a separate second transport mechanism for transporting the substrates to the exposing machine. Thus, the interface section can transport the substrates efficiently between the treating section and the exposing machine.
  • In the invention noted above, the interface transport mechanism may include a first transport mechanism for transporting the substrates to and from each of the substrate treatment lines and to the buffer unit; and a second transport mechanism for transferring the substrates to and from the first transport mechanism and transporting the substrates to and from the buffer unit and the exposing machine. The first transport mechanism is arranged to transfer a substrate received from one of the substrate treatment lines to the second transport mechanism when the substrate is the next substrate to be transported to the exposing machine, and to place the substrate received in the buffer unit when the substrate is different from the next substrate to be transported to the exposing machine. The second transport mechanism is arranged to transport any substrate received from the first transport mechanism to the exposing machine, and to transport the next substrate from the buffer unit to the exposing machine when a substrate placed in the buffer unit becomes the next substrate to be transported to the exposing machine. The interface transport mechanism includes a first transport mechanism for receiving the substrates fed from the substrate treatment lines, and a separate second transport mechanism for transporting the substrates to the exposing machine. Thus, the interface section can transport the substrates efficiently between the treating section and the exposing machine. A higher efficiency is realized with the second transport mechanism capable of transporting substrates directly from the buffer unit to the exposing machine.
  • In the invention noted above, the interface transport mechanism may be arranged to change positions of substrates placed in the buffer unit according to the substrate treatment lines from which the substrates are fed. Considering each substrate treatment line, the order of substrates fed from each substrate treatment line is the same as the order of substrates loaded into this substrate treatment line. Thus, by changing positions of substrates placed in the buffer unit according to the substrate treatment lines, the order of substrates to be transported to the exposing machine can be adjusted conveniently in the interface section.
  • In the invention noted above, the order in which the substrates are loaded into the treating section may be determined based on a relationship of substrate identifying information with the order in which the substrates are loaded into the treating section. Then, the order of loading into the treating section can be determined with respect to the substrates fed from each substrate treatment line. This facilitates an adjustment of the order of substrates to be transported to the exposing machine.
  • In the invention noted above, the order in which the substrates are loaded into the treating section may be determined based on a relationship of the substrate treatment lines transporting the substrates with the order in which the substrates are loaded into the treating section. Considering each substrate treatment line, the order of substrates fed from each substrate treatment line is the same as the order of substrates loaded into this substrate treatment line. Thus, based on the relationship of information showing to which substrate treatment line the substrates have been distributed with the order in which the substrates are loaded into the treating section, the order in which the substrates are loaded into the treating section can be presumed with respect to the substrates fed from each substrate treatment line. Thus, the order of substrates to be transported to the exposing machine can be adjusted easily.
  • In another aspect of the invention, a substrate treating apparatus comprises a treating section including a plurality of treating blocks arranged in juxtaposition, each having treating units arranged on each of vertical stories for treating substrates, and a main transport mechanism provided on each story for transporting the substrates to and from the treating units on the each story, the main transport mechanisms on the same story of adjacent treating blocks being constructed to transfer the substrates to and from each other, the treating blocks arranged at opposite ends acting as a first treating block and a second treating block, respectively, the substrates receiving a series of treatments on each story while the substrates loaded into each story of the first treating block are transported to the second treating block through the same story of each treating block; an indexer section disposed adjacent to the first treating block for transporting the substrates to each story of the first treating block; an interface section disposed adjacent to the second treating block and having an interface transport mechanism for transporting the substrates to and from each story of the second treating block and an exposing machine provided separately from the apparatus; and a controller for controlling the interface transport mechanism to transport the substrates fed from the second treating block to the exposing machine in an order in which the substrates are loaded into the first treating block.
  • According to this invention, the indexer section loads the substrates into the treating section. The substrates loaded from the indexer section are transported to either story of the first treating block located at one end of the treating section, respectively. Each story of the first treating block transports the substrates received to the same story of an adjoining treating block. In this way, the substrates loaded into each story of the first treating block are transported through the same story of each treating block to the second treating block located at the other end of the treating section. At this time, the substrates are treated in the treating units arranged on each story of each treating block. The second treating block feeds the substrates transported from the first treating block to the interface section. The interface transport mechanism provided in the interface section receives the substrates fed from each story of the second treating block and transports the substrates to the exposing machine. The controller controls the interface transport mechanism to transport the substrates fed from the second treating block to the exposing machine in the order in which the substrates are loaded into the first treating block. The plurality of stories of each treating block are arranged one over another, which significantly improves the throughput of the substrate treating apparatus without increasing its footprint. While treating the substrates in parallel in different stories from the first treating block to the second treating block, the substrates are transported to the exposing machine in the order in which the substrates are loaded into the treating section. Thus, each substrate can be controlled easily. A follow-up check can also be performed easily on the history of treatment of each substrate in the treating section or in the exposing machine.
  • In the invention noted above, under control of the controller, the interface transport mechanism may be arranged to adjust the substrates fed from the second treating block to the order in which the substrates are loaded into the first treating block. With the interface transport mechanism arranged to adjust the order of the substrates fed from the second treating block, there is no need to adjust timing of substrate feeding between the different stories from the first treating block to the second treating block. This allows each of the different stories from the first treating block to the second treating block to proceed with treatment of the substrates independently.
  • In the invention noted above, the interface section may include a buffer unit for temporarily storing the substrates, wherein under control of the controller the interface transport mechanism is arranged to transport the substrate received from the second treating block to the exposing machine when the substrate is the next substrate to be transported to the exposing machine, and to place the substrate received in the buffer unit when the substrate is different from the next substrate to be transported to the exposing machine. When each story of the second treating block feeds a substrate, the interface transport mechanism will receive the substrate. This enables each story of the second treating block to be fed a new substrate. Thus, the second treating block can feed the substrates smoothly, thereby preventing a lowering of the throughput of the substrate treating apparatus. The interface section has the buffer unit. A substrate other than the next one to be transported to the exposing machine is temporarily put on standby in the buffer unit. Thus, the interface section can conveniently adjust the order of the substrates fed from the second treating block.
  • In the invention noted above, under control of the controller, the interface transport mechanism may be arranged to transport the next substrate from the buffer unit to the exposing machine when a substrate placed in the buffer unit becomes the next substrate to be transported to the exposing machine. When a substrate placed in the buffer unit becomes the next substrate to be transported to the exposing machine, the interface transport mechanism transports the substrate to the exposing machine. Thus, even where the order of substrates fed from the second treating block is different from the order of substrates loaded into the first treating block, the order of substrates transported to the exposing machine can be brought into agreement with the order of substrates loaded into the first treating block.
  • In the invention noted above, under control of the controller the interface transport mechanism may be arranged to prioritize receiving the substrate fed from the second treating block over transporting a substrate placed in the buffer unit even when a substrate placed in the buffer unit becomes the next substrate to be transported to the exposing machine. Then, each story of the second treating block can always be fed the substrates smoothly.
  • In the invention noted above, the interface transport mechanism may include a first transport mechanism for transporting the substrates to and from each story of the second treating block and to the buffer unit and a second transport mechanism for transferring the substrates to and from the first transport mechanism and transporting the substrates to and from the exposing machine. The first transport mechanism, under control of the controller, is arranged to transfer a substrate received from each story of the second treating block to the second transport mechanism when the substrate is the next substrate to be transported to the exposing machine, to place the substrate received in the buffer unit when the substrate is different from the next substrate to be transported to the exposing machine, and to transfer the next substrate from the buffer unit to the second transport mechanism when a substrate placed in the buffer unit becomes the next substrate to be transported to the exposing machine. The second transport mechanism, under control of the controller, is arranged to transport a substrate received from the first transport mechanism to the exposing machine. The interface transport mechanism includes a first transport mechanism for receiving the substrates fed from each story of the second treating block and a separate second transport mechanism for transporting the substrates to the exposing machine. Thus, the interface section can transport the substrates efficiently between the treating section and the exposing machine.
  • In the invention noted above, the interface transport mechanism may include a first transport mechanism for transporting the substrates to and from each story of the second treating block and the buffer unit and a second transport mechanism for transferring the substrates to and from the first transport mechanism and transporting the substrates to and from the buffer unit and the exposing machine. The first transport mechanism, under control of the controller, is arranged to transfer a substrate received from each story of the second treating block to the second transport mechanism when the substrate is the next substrate to be transported to the exposing machine, and to place the substrate received in the buffer unit when the substrate is different from the next substrate to be transported to the exposing machine. The second transport mechanism is arranged to transport any substrate received from the first transport mechanism to the exposing machine and to transport the next substrate from the buffer unit to the exposing machine when a substrate placed in the buffer unit becomes the next substrate to be transported to the exposing machine. The interface transport mechanism includes a first transport mechanism for receiving the substrates fed from each story of the second treating block and a separate, second transport mechanism for transporting the substrates to the exposing machine. Thus, the interface section can transport the substrates efficiently between the treating section and the exposing machine. A higher efficiency is realized with the second transport mechanism capable of transporting substrates directly from the buffer unit to the exposing machine.
  • In the invention noted above, the controller may be arranged to stop loading the substrates from the indexer section into the treating section when the substrates placed in the buffer unit exceeds a predetermined number. When the buffer unit is unable to receive any further substrates, it is impossible to feed substrates smoothly from the treating section to the interface section. If substrates were loaded into the treating section under such circumstances, variations would occur with the substrates in the time taken from loading into the treating section to feeding from the treating section resulting, for example, in deterioration in the quality of treatment of the substrates. However, according to this invention, loading of the substrates from the indexer section into the treating section is stopped when the substrates placed in the buffer unit exceed a predetermined number. Thus, the deterioration in the quality of treatment of the substrates can be precluded.
  • In the invention noted above, the controller may be arranged to adjust an order of the substrates to be transported to the exposing machine based on a relationship of substrate identifying information with the order in which the substrates are loaded from the indexer section into the treating section. Then, the order of loading into the treating section can be determined with respect to the substrates fed from each story of the second treating block. This facilitates an adjustment of the order of substrates to be transported to the exposing machine.
  • In the invention noted above, the controller may be arranged to adjust an order of the substrates to be transported to the exposing machine based on a relationship of the stories of the first treating block transporting the substrates with the order in which the substrates are loaded from the indexer section into the treating section. Considering each of the same stories from the first treating block to the second treating block, the order of substrates fed from each substrate treatment line is the same as the order of substrates loaded into this substrate treatment line. Thus, the order in which the substrates are loaded into the treating section can be presumed based on the relationship of information showing to which story of the first treating block the substrates have been distributed, with the order in which the substrates are loaded into the treating section. This facilitates adjustment of the order of substrates. Therefore, the order of substrates to be transported to the exposing machine can be adjusted easily.
  • In the invention noted above, the indexer section may be arranged to distribute the substrate loaded into the treating section regularly and alternately to the stories of the first treating block. Then, the order of the substrates loaded into the first treating block is clear, which enables the order of substrates to be transported to the exposing machine to be adjusted conveniently.
  • In the invention noted above, the treating section may include coating blocks and developing blocks as the treating blocks. Each of the coating blocks has resist film coating units as the treating units for applying a resist film material to the substrates and each of the developing blocks has developing units as the treating units for supplying a developer to the substrates. Then, resist film can be formed on the substrates and the substrates can be developed effectively.
  • This specification discloses an invention directed to the following substrate treating apparatus also:
  • (1) The apparatus according to an embodiment wherein the interface section is arranged to receive the substrates in an order of feeding from the substrate treatment lines.
  • According to the apparatus defined in (1) above, each substrate treatment line can feed following substrates promptly.
  • (2) The apparatus according to an embodiment wherein each of the substrate treatment lines is arranged to carry out treatment for forming resist film on the substrates.
  • (3) The apparatus according to an embodiment wherein each of the substrate treatment lines is arranged to carry out treatment for developing the substrates.
  • (4) The apparatus according to an embodiment wherein each of the substrate treatment lines includes a plurality of main transport mechanisms arranged horizontally, a plurality of treating units provided for each of the main transport mechanisms for treating the substrates, wherein each of the main transport mechanisms is arranged to transfer the substrates to and from a different one of the main transport mechanisms horizontally adjacent thereto while transporting the substrates to and from the treating units associated therewith, thereby carrying out a series of treatments on the substrates.
  • According to the apparatus defined in (4) above each substrate treatment line can treat the substrates effectively.
  • (5) The apparatus according to (4) above wherein the treating units provided for each of the substrate treatment lines include resist film coating units for applying a resist film material to the substrates.
  • (6) The apparatus according to (4) above wherein the treating units provided for each of the substrate treatment lines include developing units for supplying a developer to the substrates.
  • (7) The apparatus according to an embodiment, wherein the first transport mechanism and the second transport mechanism are arranged to transfer the substrates through a receiver.
  • According to the apparatus defined in (7) above, the substrates can be transferred efficiently between the first transport mechanism and the second transport mechanism.
  • (8) The apparatus according to an embodiment wherein the buffer unit is capable of receiving a plurality of substrates.
  • According to the apparatus defined in (8) above, the order of substrates can be adjusted conveniently.
  • (9) The apparatus according to an embodiment wherein the interface section is arranged to receive the substrates in an order of feeding from each story of the second treating block.
  • According to the apparatus defined in (9) above, each story of the second treating block can feed following substrates promptly.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
  • For the purpose of illustrating the invention, there are shown in the drawings several embodiments, it being understood, however, that the invention is not limited to the precise arrangement and instrumentalities shown.
  • FIG. 1 is a schematic view showing an outline of a substrate treating apparatus according to this invention;
  • FIG. 2 is a plan view showing an outline of the substrate treating apparatus according to this invention;
  • FIG. 3 is a schematic side view showing an arrangement of treating units included in the substrate treating apparatus;
  • FIG. 4 is a schematic side view showing an arrangement of treating units included in the substrate treating apparatus;
  • FIG. 5 is a view in vertical section taken on line a-a of FIG. 2;
  • FIG. 6 is a view in vertical section taken on line b-b of FIG. 2;
  • FIG. 7 is a view in vertical section taken on line c-c of FIG. 2;
  • FIG. 8 is a view in vertical section taken on line d-d of FIG. 2;
  • FIG. 9A is a plan view of coating units;
  • FIG. 9B is a sectional view of a coating unit;
  • FIG. 10 is a perspective view of a main transport mechanism;
  • FIG. 11 is a control block diagram of the substrate treating apparatus according to the invention;
  • FIG. 12 is a flow chart of a series of treatments of substrates;
  • FIG. 13 is a view schematically showing operations repeated by each transport mechanism;
  • FIG. 14 is a schematic view showing information on a relationship between identification information on substrates and an order of substrates loaded from an ID section into a treating section;
  • FIG. 15 is a schematic view showing information on a relationship between an order of substrates loaded from the ID section into the treating section and substrate treatment lines to which the substrates are transported;
  • FIG. 16A is a schematic view showing information on a relationship between an order of substrates fed from a substrate treatment line to an IF section and an order of substrates loaded from the ID section into the treating section;
  • FIG. 16B is a schematic view showing information on a relationship between an order of substrates fed from a substrate treatment line to the IF section and an order of substrates transported from the ID section to the treating section;
  • FIG. 17A is a view schematically showing how, with progress of time, a plurality of substrates fed from each substrate treatment line are transported through the IF section to the exposing machine;
  • FIG. 17B is a view schematically showing how, with progress of time, the plurality of substrates fed from each substrate treatment line are transported through the IF section to the exposing machine;
  • FIG. 17C is a view schematically showing how, with progress of time, the plurality of substrates fed from each substrate treatment line are transported through the IF section to the exposing machine;
  • FIG. 17D is a view schematically showing how, with progress of time, the plurality of substrates fed from each substrate treatment line are transported through the IF section to the exposing machine;
  • FIG. 17E is a view schematically showing how, with progress of time, the plurality of substrates fed from each substrate treatment line are transported through the IF section to the exposing machine;
  • FIG. 17F is a view schematically showing how, with progress of time, the plurality of substrates fed from each substrate treatment line are transported through the IF section to the exposing machine;
  • FIG. 17G is a view schematically showing how, with progress of time, the plurality of substrates fed from each substrate treatment line are transported through the IF section to the exposing machine;
  • FIG. 17H is a view schematically showing how, with progress of time, the plurality of substrates fed from each substrate treatment line are transported through the IF section to the exposing machine;
  • FIG. 17I is a view schematically showing how, with progress of time, the plurality of substrates fed from each substrate treatment line are transported through the IF section to the exposing machine;
  • FIG. 17J is a view schematically showing how, with progress of time, the plurality of substrates fed from each substrate treatment line are transported through the IF section to the exposing machine; and
  • FIG. 18 is a view schematically showing operations repeated by a first and a second transport mechanisms in a modified embodiment.
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION
  • One embodiment of this invention will be described in detail hereinafter with reference to the drawings.
  • An outline of this embodiment will be described first. FIG. 1 is a plan view showing an outline of a substrate treating apparatus according to this embodiment.
  • This embodiment provides a substrate treating apparatus 10 for forming resist film or the like on substrates (e.g. semiconductor wafers) W, and developing exposed wafers W. The substrate treating apparatus 10 will be referred to simply as the apparatus 10 as appropriate. This apparatus 10 includes an indexer section (hereinafter called “ID section”) 1, a treating section 3 and an interface section (hereinafter called “IF section”) 5. The ID section 1, treating section 3 and IF section 5 are arranged adjacent one another in the stated order. An exposing machine EXP, which is an external apparatus separate from this apparatus 10, is disposed adjacent the IF section 5.
  • The ID section 1 transfers wafers W to the treating section 3. The treating section 3 includes a plurality of (e.g. two) substrate treatment lines Lu and Ld. Each substrate treatment line Lu or Ld treats the wafers W while transporting the wafers W substantially horizontally. The substrate treatment lines Lu and Ld are arranged one over the other. Each substrate treatment line Lu or Lu has one end thereof opposed to the ID section 1, and the other end opposed to the IF section 5. Each substrate treatment line Lu or Ld has main transport mechanisms and treating units as described hereinafter. In the following description, the substrate treatment lines Lu and Ld will be referred to simply as the “substrate treatment lines L” when they are not distinguished. The IF section 5 transfers the wafers W between the treating section 3 and exposing machine EXP. The exposing machine EXP exposes the wafers W.
  • The apparatus 10 constructed in this way operates as follows. The ID section 1 transports a plurality of wafers W into the treating section 3. Here, as shown in FIG. 1, a case of transporting eight wafers Wa, Wb, Wc, . . . , and Wh from the ID section 1 to the treating section 3 will be described by way of example. The arrow affixed with sign OA in FIG. 1 indicates an order in which the wafers W are transported from the ID section 1 to the treating section 3; it signifies that wafer Wa is the first, wafer Wb is the second, wafers Wc and Wd are the third and fourth, respectively, . . . and wafer Wh is the eighth. The other arrows indicates the following orders: order OB of wafers W fed from the substrate treatment line Lu to the IF section 5; order OC of wafers W fed from the substrate treatment line Ld to the IF section 5, order OD of wafers W fed from the substrate treatment lines Lu Ld as a whole, i.e. from the treating section 3 to the IF section 5, and order OE of wafers W transported from the IF section 5 to the exposing machine EXP. These orders will be referred to hereinafter simply as “order OA”, “order OB” and so on as appropriate.
  • In transporting the wafers W from the ID section 1 to the treating section 3, the wafers W are distributed alternately to the substrate treatment lines Lu and Ld. As a result, wafers Wa, Wc, We and Wg, which are the first, third, fifth and seventh in the order OA, are transported to the substrate treatment line Lu, and wafers Wb, Wd, Wf and Wh, which are the second, fourth, sixth and eighth in the order OA, are transported to the substrate treatment line Ld.
  • Each of the substrate treatment lines Lu and Ld carries out a series of treatments for the wafers W transported thereto, and feeds the wafers W to the IF section 5. As far as the substrate treatment line Lu is concerned, the order OB is the same as the order of wafers W transported from the ID section 1 to the substrate treatment line Lu. As far as the substrate treatment line Ld is concerned, the order OC is the same as the order of wafers W transported from the ID section 1 to the substrate treatment line Ld. However, the time taken from loading-in to feeding-out is not necessarily the same between the substrate treatment lines Lu and Ld even if the same treatment is carried out. Therefore, when the substrate treatment lines Lu and Ld are seen as a whole, the order OD of wafers W fed therefrom is not necessarily the same as the order OA. FIG. 1 illustrates the case where the order OD of wafers W fed out of the treating section 3 differs from the order OA of wafers W loaded into the treating section 3.
  • The IF section 5 successively receives wafers W fed from the respective substrate treatment lines Lu and Ld. Therefore, the IF section 5 receives wafers W from the treating section 3 is the same order as order OD.
  • The IF section 5 adjusts the wafers W fed from the treating section 3 to the order OA of loading into the treating section 3. Then, the IF section 5 transports the wafers W to the exposing machine EXP in the same order as the order OA of wafers W loaded into the treating section 3. That is, the order OE in which the IF section 5 transports the wafers W to the exposing machine EXP is the same as the order OA.
  • The exposing machine EXP exposes the wafers W transported thereto. Although not shown in FIG. 1, the exposing machine EXP transports the exposed wafers W back to the IF section 5. The IF section 5 receives the wafers W from the exposing machine EXP, and transports the wafers W to the treating section 3. The treating section 3 transports the wafers W to the ID section 1 through each substrate treatment line L.
  • Thus, even where wafers W are treated in parallel in a plurality of (two) substrate treatment lines Lu and Ld, the order OE of wafers W transported to the exposing machine EXP is the same as the order OA of wafers W loaded into the treating section 3. Therefore, each of the wafers W can be controlled easily. A follow-up check may also be carried out easily on the history of treatment of each wafer W in the treating section 3 and exposing machine EXP.
  • This apparatus 10, including the plurality of (two) substrate treatment lines Lu and Ld treats wafers W in parallel in the substrate treatment lines L, thereby significantly improves throughput. The substrate treatment lines Lu and Ld are arranged one over the other, and this arrangement can prevent an enlarged footprint of the apparatus 10.
  • This embodiment will be described in greater detail hereinafter. FIG. 2 is a plan view showing an outline of the substrate treating apparatus according to this embodiment. FIGS. 3 and 4 are schematic side views showing an arrangement of treating units included in the substrate treating apparatus. FIGS. 5 through 8 are views in vertical section taken on lines a-a, b-b, c-c and d-d of FIG. 2, respectively.
  • ID Section 1
  • The ID section 1 takes wafers W out of each cassette C which stores a plurality of wafers W and deposits wafers W in the cassette C. The ID section 1 has a cassette table 9 for receiving cassettes C. The cassette table 9 can receive four cassettes C as arranged in a row. The ID section 1 has also an ID transport mechanism TID. As shown in FIG. 5, the ID transport mechanism TID transports wafers W to and from each cassette C, and transports wafers W to and from receivers PASS1 and PASS3 to be described hereinafter. The ID transport mechanism TID has a movable base 21 for moving horizontally alongside the cassette table 9 in the direction of arrangement of the cassettes C, a lift shaft 23 vertically extendible and contractible relative to the movable base 21, and a holding arm 25 swivelable on the lift shaft 23, and extendible and retractable radially of the swivel motion, for holding a wafer W.
  • Treating Section 3
  • Each substrate treatment line L of the treating section is constructed to transport wafers W in a substantially horizontal direction between the ID section 1 and IF section 5. Each substrate treatment line L has main transport mechanisms T for transporting wafers W. In this embodiment, each substrate treatment line L has a plurality of main transport mechanisms T (two for each substrate treatment line L, and thus a total of four). The main transport mechanisms T provided for the same substrate treatment line L are arranged in the direction in which the wafers W are transported, and the wafers W can be transferred between the main transport mechanisms T adjacent each other in the transport direction. Each main transport mechanism T transports wafers W to and from various treating units described hereinafter, and transfers wafers W to and from the other main transport mechanism T adjacent thereto.
  • Specifically, the substrate treatment line Lu includes a main transport mechanism T1 and a main transport mechanism T2 arranged in a row. The main transport mechanism T1 is disposed adjacent to the ID section, while the main transport mechanism T2 is disposed adjacent to the IF section 5. Similarly, the substrate treatment line Ld includes a main transport mechanism T3 and a main transport mechanism T4 arranged in a row. The main transport mechanism T3 is disposed adjacent to the ID section, while the main transport mechanism T4 is disposed adjacent to the IF section 5.
  • In this embodiment, the treating section 3 which has the above substrate treatment lines L includes a plurality of (two) treating blocks Ba and Bb arranged side by side (in substantially the same direction as the transport direction). The treating block Ba is located adjacent the ID section 1, while the treating block Bb is located adjacent the IF section 5. Each of the treating blocks Ba and Ba is vertically divided into a plurality of (two) stories K. The upper story K1 of the treating block Ba has the main transport mechanism T1 noted above, and the lower story K3 has the main transport mechanism T3. Similarly, the upper story K2 of the treating block Bb has the main transport mechanism T2, and the lower story K4 has the main transport mechanism T4. The story K1 and story K2 are at the same height, and the story K3 and story K4 are at the same height. In this sense, the story K1 and story K2 are “the same stories” and the story K3 and story K4 are “the same stories”.
  • The main transport mechanisms T1 and T2 on the same stories K1 and K2 of the adjoining treating blocks Ba and Bb can transfer wafers W to and from each other. The stories K1 and K2 constitute the substrate treatment line Lu. Similarly, the main transport mechanisms T3 and T4 can transfer wafers W to and from each other. The stories K3 and K4 constitute the substrate treatment line Ld.
  • Treating Section 3—Treating Block Ba
  • Receivers PASS1 and PASS3 for receiving wafers W are provided between the ID section 1 and the respective stories K1 and K3 of the treating block Ba. The receiver PASS1 receives, as temporarily placed thereon, wafers W passed between the ID transport mechanism TID and the main transport mechanism T1. Similarly, the receiver PASS3 receives, as temporarily placed thereon, wafers W passed between the ID transport mechanism TID and the main transport mechanism T3. Seen in a sectional view, the receiver PASS1 is disposed at a height adjacent a lower part of the upper story K2, while the receiver PASS3 is disposed at a height adjacent an upper part of the lower story K3. Thus, the positions of receiver PASS1 and receiver PASS3 are relatively close to each other for allowing the ID transport mechanism TID to move between the receiver PASS1 and receiver PASS3 through using only a small amount of vertical movement.
  • Receivers PASS2 and PASS4 for receiving wafers W are provided also between the treating blocks Ba and Bb. The receiver PASS2 is disposed between the story K1 and story K2, and the receiver PASS4 between the story K3 and story K4. The main transport mechanisms T1 and T2 transfer wafers W through the receiver PASS2, and the main transport mechanisms T3 and T4 through the receiver PASS4.
  • The receiver PASS1 includes a plurality of receivers (two in this embodiment). These receivers PASS1 are arranged vertically adjacent each other. Of the two receivers PASS1, one PASS1A receives wafers W passed from the ID transport mechanism TID to the main transport mechanism T1. The other receiver PASS1B receives wafers W passed from the main transport mechanism T1 to the ID transport mechanism TID. Each of the receivers PASS2-PASS4 and receivers PASS5 and PASS6 described hereinafter similarly includes a plurality of (two) receivers, one of which is selected according to a direction for transferring wafers W. Each of the receivers PASS1A and PASS1B has a sensor (not shown) for detecting presence or absence of a wafer W. Based on detection signals of each sensor, the transfer of wafers W by the ID transport mechanism TID and main transport mechanism T1 is controlled. Similar sensors are attached also to the receivers PASS2-PASS6, respectively.
  • The story K1 will now be described. The main transport mechanism T1 is movable in a transporting space A1 extending substantially through the center of the story K1 and parallel to the direction of transport. The story K1 has, arranged thereon, coating units 31 for applying a treating solution to wafers W, and heat-treating units 41 for heat-treating the wafers W. The coating units 31 are arranged on one side of the transporting space A1, while the heat-treating units 41 are arranged on the other side thereof.
  • The coating units 31 are arranged vertically and horizontally, each facing the transporting space A1. In this embodiment, four coating units 31 in total are arranged in two columns and two rows.
  • The coating units 31 include anti-reflection film coating units BARC for applying an anti-reflection film material to the wafers W, and resist film coating units RESIST for applying a resist film material to the wafers W. In this specification, the treatment carried out in the anti-reflection film coating units BARC is referred to as anti-reflection film material coating treatment as appropriate, and the treatment carried out in the resist film coating units RESIST is referred to as resist film material coating treatment as appropriate.
  • The plurality of (two) anti-reflection film coating units BARC are arranged at substantially the same height in the lower row. The plurality of resist film coating units RESIST are arranged at substantially the same height in the upper row. No dividing wall or partition is provided between the antireflection film coating units BARC. That is, all the antireflection film coating units BARC are only housed in a common chamber, and the atmosphere around each antireflection film coating unit BARC is not blocked off (i.e. is in communication). Similarly, the atmosphere around each resist film coating unit RESIST is not blocked off.
  • Reference is made to FIGS. 9A and 9B. FIG. 9A is a plan view of the coating units 31. FIG. 9B is a sectional view of a coating unit 31. Each coating unit 31 includes a spin holder 32 for holding and spinning a wafer W, a cup 33 surrounding the wafer W, and a supply device 34 for supplying a treating solution to the wafer W.
  • The supply device 34 includes a plurality of nozzles 35, a gripper 36 for gripping one of the nozzles 35, and a nozzle moving mechanism 37 for moving the gripper 36 to move one of the nozzles 35 between a treating position above the wafer W and a standby position away from above the wafer W. Each nozzle 35 has one end of a treating solution pipe 38 connected thereto. The treating solution pipe 38 is arranged movable (flexible) to permit movement of the nozzle 35 between the standby position and treating position. The other end of each treating solution pipe 38 is connected to a treating solution source (not shown). Specifically, in the case of antireflection film coating units BARC, the treating solution sources supply different types of treating solution for antireflection film to the respective nozzles 35. In the case of resist film coating units RESIST, the treating solution sources supply different types of resist film material to the respective nozzles 35.
  • The nozzle moving mechanism 37 has first guide rails 37 a and a second guide rail 37 b. The first guide rails 37 a are arranged parallel to each other and opposed to each other across the two cups 33 arranged sideways. The second guide rail 37 b is slidably supported by the two first guide rails 37 a and disposed above the two cups 33. The gripper 36 is slidably supported by the second guide rail 37 b. The first guide rails 37 a and second guide rail 37 b take guiding action substantially horizontally and in directions substantially perpendicular to each other. The nozzle moving mechanism 37 further includes drive members (not shown) for sliding the second guide rail 37 b, and sliding the gripper 36. The drive members are operable to move the nozzle 35 gripped by the gripper 36 to the treating positions above the two spin holders 32.
  • The plurality of heat-treating units 41 are arranged vertically and horizontally, each facing the transporting space A1. In this embodiment, three heat-treating units 41 can be arranged horizontally, and five heat-treating units 41 can be stacked vertically. Each heat-treating unit 41 has a plate 43 for receiving a wafer W. The heat-treating units 41 include cooling units CP for cooling wafers W, heating and cooling units PHP for carrying out heating and cooling treatments continually, and adhesion units AHL for heat-treating wafers W in an atmosphere of hexamethyldisilazane (HMDS) vapor in order to promote adhesion of coating film to the wafers W. As shown in FIG. 6, each heating and cooling unit PHP has two plates 43, and a local transport mechanism (not shown) for moving a wafer W between the two plates 43. The various types of heat-treating units CP, PHP and AHL are arranged in appropriate positions. In this specification, the treatment carried out in the heating and cooling units PHP is referred to as heating/cooling treatment as appropriate.
  • The main transport mechanism T1 will be described specifically. Reference is made to FIG. 10. FIG. 10 is a perspective view of the main transport mechanism T1. The main transport mechanism T1 has two third guide rails 51 for providing vertical guidance, and a fourth guide rail 52 for providing horizontal guidance. The third guide rails 51 are fixed opposite each other at one side of the transporting space A1. In this embodiment, the third guide rails 51 are arranged at the side adjacent the coating units 31. The fourth guide rail 52 is slidably attached to the third guide rails 51. The fourth guide rail 52 has a base 53 slidably attached thereto. The base 53 extends transversely, substantially to the center of the transporting space Al. Further, drive members (not shown) are provided for vertically moving the fourth guide rail 52, and horizontally moving the base 53. The drive members are operable to move the base 53 to positions for accessing the coating units 31 and heat-treating units 41 arranged vertically and horizontally.
  • The base 53 has a turntable 55 rotatable about a vertical axis Q. The turntable 55 has two holding arms 57 a and 57 b horizontally movably attached thereto for holding wafers W, respectively. The two holding arms 57 a and 57 b are arranged vertically close to each other. Further, drive members (not shown) are provided for rotating the turntable 55, and moving the holding arms 57 a and 57 b. The drive members are operable to move the turntable 55 to positions opposed to the coating units 31, heat-treating units 41 and receivers PASS1 and PASS2, and to extend and retract the holding arms 57 a and 57 b to and from the coating units 31 and so on.
  • The story K3 will be described next. Like reference numerals are used to identify like parts which are the same as in the story K1, and will not be described again. The layout (arrangement) in plan view of the main transport mechanism T3 and treating units in the story K3 is substantially the same as in the story K1. Thus, the arrangement of the various treating units of the story K3 as seen from the main transport mechanism T3 is substantially the same as the arrangement of the various treating units of the story K1 as seen from the main transport mechanism T1. The coating units 31 and heat-treating units 41 of the story K3 are stacked under the coating units 31 and heat-treating units 41 of the story K1, respectively.
  • In the following description, when distinguishing the resist film coating units RESIST in the stories K1 and K3, subscripts “1” and “3” will be affixed (for example, the resist film coating units RESIST in the story K1 will be referred to as “resist film coating units RESIST1”).
  • The other aspects of the treating block Ba will be described. As shown in FIGS. 5 and 6, each of the transporting spaces A1 and A3 has a first blowout unit 61 for blowing out a clean gas, and an exhaust unit 62 for sucking the gas. Each of the first blowout unit 61 and exhaust unit 62 is in the form of a flat box having substantially the same area as the transporting space A1 in plan view. Each of the first blowout unit 61 and exhaust unit 62 has first blowout openings 61 a or exhaust openings 62 a formed in one surface thereof. In this embodiment, the first blowout openings 61 a or exhaust openings 62 a are in the form of numerous small bores f (see FIG. 10). The first blowout units 61 a re arranged over the transporting spaces A1 and A3 with the first blowout openings 61 a directed downward. The exhaust units 62 are arranged under the transporting spaces A1 and A3 with the exhaust openings 62 a directed upward. The atmosphere in the transporting space Al and the atmosphere in the transporting space A3 are blocked off by the exhaust unit 62 of the transporting space A1 and the first blowout unit 61 of the transporting space A3. Thus, each of the stories K1 and K3 has the atmosphere blocked off from the other.
  • The first blowout units 61 of the transporting spaces A1 and A3 are connected to a common, first gas supply pipe 63. The first gas supply pipe 63 extends laterally of the receivers PASS2 and PASS4 from an upper position of the transporting space A1 to a lower position of the transporting space A3, and is bent below the transporting space A3 to extend horizontally. The other end of the first gas supply pipe 63 is connected to a gas source not shown. Similarly, the exhaust units 62 of the transporting spaces A1 and A3 are connected to a common, first gas exhaust pipe 64. The first gas exhaust pipe 64 extends laterally of the receivers PASS2 and PASS4 from a lower position of the transporting space A1 to a lower position of the transporting space A3, and is bent below the transporting space A2 to extend horizontally. As the gas is blown out of each first blowout opening 61 a and sucked and exhausted through each exhaust opening 62 a of the transporting spaces A1 and A3, gas currents are formed to flow from top to bottom of the transporting spaces A1 and A3, thereby keeping each of the transporting spaces A1 and A3 in a clean state.
  • As shown in FIGS. 2, 7 and 9A, each coating unit 31 of the stories K1 and K3 has a pit portion PS extending vertically. The pit portion PS accommodates a second gas supply pipe 65 extending vertically for supplying the clean gas, and a second gas exhaust pipe 66 extending vertically for exhausting the gas. Each of the second gas supply pipe 65 and second gas exhaust pipe 66 branches at a predetermined height in each coating unit 31 to extend substantially horizontally from the pit portion PS. A plurality of branches of the second gas supply pipe 65 are connected to second blowout units 67 for blowing out the gas downward. A plurality of branches of the second gas exhaust pipe 66 are connected for communication to the bottoms of the respective cups 33. The other end of the second gas supply pipe 65 is connected to the first gas supply pipe 63 below the story K3. The other end of the second gas exhaust pipe 66 is connected to the first gas exhaust pipe 64 below the story K3. As the gas is blown out of the second blowout units 67 and exhausted through the second exhaust pipes 62 a, the atmosphere inside each cup 33 is constantly maintained clean, thereby allowing for excellent treatment of the wafer W held by the spin holder 32.
  • The pit portions PS further accommodate piping of the treating solutions, electric wiring and the like (not shown). Thus, with the pit portions PS accommodating the piping and electric wiring provided for the coating units 31 of the stories K1 and K3, the piping and electric wiring can be reduced in length.
  • The treating block Ba has one housing 75 for accommodating the main transport mechanisms T1 and T3, coating units 31 and heat-treating units 41 described hereinbefore. The treating block Bb described hereinafter also has a housing 75 for accommodating the main transport mechanisms T2 and T4 and the treating units included in the treating block Bb. The housing 75 of the treating block Ba and the housing 75 of the treating block Bb are separate entities. Thus, with each of the treating blocks Ba and Bb having the housing 75 accommodating the main transport mechanisms T and treating units U en bloc, the treating section 3 may be manufactured and assembled simply. The treating block Ba corresponds to the coating block in this invention. The treating block Ba corresponds also to the first treating block in this invention.
  • Treating Section 3—Treating Block Bb
  • The story K2 will be described. Like reference numerals are used to identify like parts which are the same as in the story K1 and will not be described again. The story K2 has a transporting space A2 formed as an extension of the transporting space A1.
  • The story K2 has, arranged thereon, developing units DEV for supplying a developing solution to wafers W, heat-treating units 42 for heat-treating the wafers W, and an edge exposing unit EEW for exposing peripheral regions of the wafers W. The developing units DEV are arranged at one side of the transporting space A2, and the heat-treating units 42 and edge exposing unit EEW are arranged at the other side of the transporting space A2. Preferably, the developing units DEV are arranged at the same side as the coating units 31. It is also preferable that the heat-treating units 42 and edge exposing unit EEW are arranged in the same row as the heat-treating units 41. In this specification, the treatment carried out in the developing units DEV is referred to as developing treatment as appropriate, and the treatment carried out in the edge exposing unit EEW is referred to as edge exposure as appropriate.
  • The number of developing units DEV is four, and sets of two units DEV arranged horizontally along the transporting space A2 are stacked one over the other. As shown in FIGS. 2 and 7, each developing unit DEV includes a spin holder 77 for holding and spinning a wafer W, and a cup 79 surrounding the wafer W. The two developing units DEV arranged at the lower level are not separated from each other by a partition wall or the like. A supply device 81 is provided for supplying developers to the two developing units DEV. The supply device 81 includes two slit nozzles 81 a having a slit or a row of small bores for delivering the developers. The slit or row of small bores, preferably, has a length corresponding to the diameter of wafer W. Preferably, the two slit nozzles 81 a are arranged to deliver developers of different types or concentrations. The supply device 81 further includes a moving mechanism 81 b for moving each slit nozzle 81 a. Thus, the slit nozzles 81 a are movable, respectively, over the two spin holders 77 juxtaposed sideways.
  • The plurality of heat-treating units 42 are arranged sideways along the transporting space A2, and stacked one over the other. The heat-treating units 42 include heating units HP for heating wafers W, cooling units CP for cooling wafers W, and heating and cooling units PHP for carrying out heating/cooling treatment.
  • The plurality of heating and cooling units PHP are vertically stacked in the column closest to the IF section 5, each having one side facing the IF section 5. The heating and cooling units PHP on the story K2 have transport ports formed in the sides thereof for passage of wafers W. IF transport mechanisms TIF to be described hereinafter transport wafers W through the above transport ports to the heating and cooling units PHP. The heating and cooling units PHP arranged on the story K2 carry out post-exposure baking (PEB) treatment. Thus, the heating/cooling treatment carried out in the heating and cooling units PHP on the story K2 in particular is referred to as PEB treatment. Similarly, the heating/cooling treatment carried out in the heating and cooling units PHP on the story K4 in particular is referred to as PEB treatment.
  • The single edge exposing unit EEW is disposed in a predetermined position. The edge exposing unit EEW includes a spin holder (not shown) for holding and spinning a wafer W, and a light emitter (not shown) for exposing edges of the wafer W held by the spin holder.
  • The receiver PASS5 is formed on top of the heating and cooling units PHP. The main transport mechanism T2 and IF transport mechanisms TIF to be described hereinafter transfer wafers W through the receiver PASS5.
  • The main transport mechanism T2 is disposed substantially centrally of the transporting space A2 in plan view. The main transport mechanism T2 has the same construction as the main transport mechanism T1. The main transport mechanism T2 transports wafers W to and from the receiver PASS2, various heat-treating units 42, edge exposing unit EEW and receiver PASS5.
  • The story K4 will be described briefly. The relationship in construction between story K2 and story K4 is similar to that between stories K1 and K3. The treating units U on the story K4 are developing units DEV, heat-treating units 42 and an edge exposing unit EEW. The heat-treating units 42 on the story K4 include heating units HP, cooling units CP and heating and cooling units PHP. The receiver PASS6 is formed on top of the heating and cooling units PHP on the story K4. The main transport mechanism T4 and IF transport mechanisms TIF described hereinafter transfer wafers W through the receiver PASS6. The heating and cooling units PHP on the story K4 also carry out post-exposure baking (PEB) treatment.
  • In the following description, when distinguishing the developing units DEV, edge exposing units EEW and so on provided on the stories K2 and K4, subscripts “2” and “4” will be affixed (for example, the heating units HP on the story K2 will be referred to as “heating units HP2”).
  • Each of the transporting spaces A2 and A4 of the stories K2 and K4 also has constructions corresponding to the first blowout unit 61 and exhaust unit 62. Each developing unit DEV of the stories K2 and K4 also has constructions corresponding to the second blowout unit 67 and second gas exhaust pipe 66.
  • The treating block Bb constructed in this way corresponds to the developing block in this invention. The treating block Bb corresponds also to the second treating block in this invention.
  • IF Section 5
  • The IF section 5 transfers wafers W between each of the substrate treatment lines Lu and Ld (stories K2 and K4) of the treating section 3 and the exposing machine EXP. The IF section 5 has IF transport mechanisms TIF for transporting wafers W. The IF transport mechanisms TIF include a first transport mechanism TIFA and a second transport mechanism TIFB that can transfer wafers W to and from each other. The first transport mechanism TIFA transports wafers W to and from the substrate treatment lines Lu and Ld. In this embodiment, as described hereinbefore, the first transport mechanism TIFA transports wafers W to and from the receivers PASS5 and PASS6 on the stories K2 and K4, and to and from the heating and cooling units PHP on the stories K3 and K4. The second transport mechanism TIFB transports wafers W to and from the exposing machine EXP.
  • As shown in FIG. 2, the first transport mechanism TIFA and second transport mechanism TIFB are arranged in a transverse direction perpendicular to the transport direction of the substrate treatment lines L. The first transport mechanism TIFA is disposed at the side where the heat-treating units 42 and so on of the stories K2 and K4 are located. The second transport mechanism TIFB is disposed at the side where the developing units DEV of the stories K2 and K4 are located. Provided between the first and second transport mechanisms TIFA and TIFB are a receiver PASS-CP for receiving and cooling wafers W, a receiver PASS7 for receiving wafers W, and buffers BF for temporarily storing wafers W. The buffers BF can receive or store a plurality of wafers W. The first and second transport mechanisms TIFA and TIFB transfer wafers W through the receiver PASS-CP and receiver PASS7. The buffers BF are accessed exclusively by the first transport mechanism TIFA.
  • As shown in FIG. 8, the first transport mechanism TIFA includes a fixed base 83, lift shafts 85 vertically extendible and contractible relative to the base 83, and a holding arm 87 swivelable on the lift shafts 85, and extendible and retractable radially of the swivel motion, for holding a wafer W. The second transport mechanism TIFB also has a base 83, lift shafts 85 and a holding arm 87.
  • A control system of this apparatus 10 will be described next. FIG. 11 is a control block diagram of the substrate treating apparatus according to the invention. As shown, the control section 90 of this apparatus 10 includes a main controller 91 and a first to a seventh controllers 93, 94, 95, 96, 97, 98 and 99.
  • The main controller 91 performs overall control of the first to seventh controllers 93-99. The first controller 93 controls substrate transport by the ID transport mechanism TID. The second controller 94 controls substrate transport by the main transport mechanism T1, and substrate treatment in the resist film coating units RESIST1, antireflection film coating units BARC1, cooling units CP1, heating and cooling units PHP1 and adhesion units AHL1. The third controller 95 controls substrate transport by the main transport mechanism T2, and substrate treatment in the edge exposing unit EEW2, developing units DEV2, heating units HP2 and cooling units CP2. The controls by the fourth and fifth controllers 96 and 97 correspond to those by the second and third controllers 94 and 95, respectively. The sixth controller 98 controls substrate transport by the first transport mechanism TIFA, and substrate treatment in the heating and cooling units PHP2 and PHP4. The seventh controller 99 controls substrate transport by the second transport mechanism TIFB. The first to seventh controllers 93-99 carry out the controls independently of one another.
  • Each of the main controller 91 and the first to seventh controllers 93-99 is realized by a central processing unit (CPU) which performs various processes, a RAM (Random Access Memory) used as the workspace for operation processes, and a storage medium such as a fixed disk. The storage medium stores a variety of information including a predetermined processing recipe (processing program), and information specifying an order of wafers W to be loaded into the treating section 3.
  • Next, operation of the substrate treating apparatus in this embodiment will be described. FIG. 12 is a flow chart of a series of treatments of wafers W, indicating the treating units and receivers to which the wafers W are transported in order. FIG. 13 is a view schematically showing operations repeated by each transport mechanism, and specifying an order of treating units, receivers and cassettes accessed by the transport mechanisms. The following description will be made separately for each transport mechanism. FIGS. 12 and 13 show an example of basic operation where the order OD of wafers W the IF section 5 receives from the treating section 3 is the same as the order OA of wafers W transported from the ID section 1 to the treating section 3. An operation taking place where the order OD is different from the order OA will be described in connection with operation of IF transport mechanisms TIF
  • ID Transport Mechanism TID
  • The ID transport mechanism TID moves to a position opposed to one of the cassettes C, holds with the holding arm 25 a wafer W to be treated and takes the wafer W out of the cassette C. The ID transport mechanism TID swivels the holding arm 25, vertically moves the lift shaft 23, moves to a position opposed to the receiver PASS1, and places the wafer W on the receiver PASS1A (which corresponds to step S1 a in FIG. 12; only step numbers will be indicated hereinafter). At this time, a wafer W usually is present on the receiver PASS1B, and the ID transport mechanism TID receives this wafer W and stores it in a cassette C (step S23). When there is no wafer W on the receiver PASS1B, step S23 is omitted. Then, the ID transport mechanism TID accesses the cassette C, and transports a wafer W from the cassette C to the receiver PASS3A (step S1 b). Here again, if a wafer W is present on the receiver PASS3B, the ID transport mechanism TID will store this wafer W in a cassette C (step S23). The ID transport mechanism TID repeats the above operation.
  • This operation of the ID transport mechanism TID is controlled by the first controller 93. As a result, the wafers W in the cassette C are fed to the story K1, and the wafers W delivered from the story K1 are stored in the cassette C. Similarly, the wafers W in the cassette C are fed to the story K3, and the wafers W delivered from the story K3 are stored in the cassette C.
  • Main Transport Mechanisms T1, T3
  • Since operation of the main transport mechanism T3 is substantially the same as operation of the main transport mechanism T1, only the main transport mechanism T1 will be described. The main transport mechanism T1 moves to a position opposed to the receiver PASS1. At this time, the main transport mechanism T1 holds, on one holding arm 57 (e.g. 57 b), a wafer W received immediately before from the receiver PASS2B. The main transport mechanism T1 places this wafer W on the receiver PASS1B (step S22), and holds the wafer W present on the receiver PASS1A with the other holding arm 57 (e.g. 57 a).
  • The main transport mechanism T1 accesses one of the cooling units CP1. There is a different wafer W having already received cooling treatment in the cooling unit CP1. The main transport mechanism T1 holds the different wafer W with the unloaded holding arm 57 (holding no wafer W), takes it out of the cooling unit CP1, and loads into the cooling unit CP1 the wafer W having received from the receiver PASS1A. Then, the main transport mechanism T1, holding the cooled wafer W, moves to one of the antireflection film coating units BARC1. The cooling unit CP1 starts cooling treatment of the wafer W loaded therein (step S2). This heat treatment (cooling) will have been finished by the time the main transport mechanism T1 accesses this cooling unit CP1 next time. The following description assumes that wafers W having received predetermined treatments are present also in the other, different heat-treating units 41 and coating units 31 when the main transport mechanism T1 makes access thereto.
  • Accessing the antireflection film coating unit BARC1, the main transport mechanism T1 takes a wafer W having antireflection film formed thereon from the antireflection film coating unit BARC1, and places the cooled wafer W on the spin holder 32 of the antireflection film coating unit BARC1. Then, the main transport mechanism T1, holding the wafer W having antireflection film formed thereon, moves to one of the heating and cooling units PHP1. The antireflection film coating unit BARC1 starts antireflection film material coating treatment of the wafer W placed on the spin holder 32 (step S3 a).
  • Specifically, the spin holder 32 spins the wafer W in horizontal posture, the gripper 26 grips one of the nozzles 35, the nozzle moving mechanism 37 moves the gripped nozzle 35 to a position above the wafer W, and the treating solution for antireflection film is supplied from the nozzle 35 to the wafer W. The treating solution supplied spreads all over the wafer W, and is scattered away from the wafer W. The cup 33 collects the scattering treating solution. In this way, the treatment is carried out for forming antireflection film on the wafer W.
  • Accessing the heating and cooling unit PHP1, the main transport mechanism T1 takes a wafer W having received heat treatment out of the heating and cooling unit PHP1, and loads the wafer W having antireflection film formed thereon into the heating and cooling unit PHP1. Then, the main transport mechanism T1, holding the wafer W taken out of the heating and cooling unit PHP1, moves to one of the cooling units CP1. The heating and cooling unit PHP1 receives a wafer W successively on the two plates 43, to heat the wafer W on one of the plates 43 and then to cool the wafer W on the other plate 43 (step S4 a).
  • Having moved to the cooling unit CP1, the main transport mechanism T1 takes a wafer W out of the cooling unit CP1, and loads the wafer W held by the transport mechanism T1 into the cooling unit CP1. The cooling unit CP1 cools the wafer W loaded therein (step S5 a).
  • Then, the main transport mechanism T1 moves to one of the resist film coating units RESIST1. The main transport mechanism T1 takes a wafer W having resist film formed thereon from the resist film coating unit RESIST1, and loads the wafer W held by the main transport mechanism T1 into the resist film coating unit RESIST1. The resist film coating unit RESIST1, while spinning the wafer W loaded therein, applies the resist film material to the wafer W (step S6 a).
  • The main transport mechanism T1 further moves to one of the heating and cooling units PHP1 and one of the cooling units CP1. The main transport mechanism T1 loads the wafer W having resist film formed thereon into the heating and cooling unit PHP1, transfers a wafer W treated in the heating and cooling unit PHP1 to the cooling unit CP1, and receives a wafer W treated in the cooling unit CP1. The heating and cooling unit PHP1 and cooling unit CP1 carry out predetermined treatments of newly loaded wafers W, respectively (steps S7 a and S8 a).
  • The main transport mechanism T1 moves to the receiver PASS2, places the wafer W it is holding on the receiver PASS2A (step S9 a), and receives a wafer W present on the receiver PASS2B (step S21 a).
  • Subsequently, the main transport mechanism T1 accesses the receiver PASS1 again, and repeats the above operation. This operation is controlled by the second controller 94. As a result, all the wafers W transported from the cassette C to the receiver PASS1 are transported to and from the various treating units through the transport path on the story K1 to receive the predetermined treatment successively in the treating units to which the wafers W are transported.
  • The main transport mechanism T1 transports a wafer W having been transported to the receiver PASS1 to a predetermined treating unit (a cooling unit CP1 in this embodiment), and takes a treated wafer W from this treating unit. Subsequently, the main transport mechanism T1 transports the wafer W taken out to a next treating unit (an antireflection film coating unit BARC1), and takes a treated wafer W from this treating unit. In this way, the treatment is carried out in parallel for a plurality of wafers W by transferring a treated wafer W from each treating unit to a new treating unit. Starting with a wafer W first placed on the receiver PASS1, the wafers W are successively placed on the receiver PASS2 to be fed to the story K2. Similarly, the wafers W are placed on the receiver PASS1 in the order of placement on the receiver PASS2 to be fed to the ID section 1.
  • Main Transport Mechanisms T2, T4
  • Since operation of the main transport mechanism T4 is substantially the same as operation of the main transport mechanism T2, only the main transport mechanism T2 will be described. The main transport mechanism T2 moves to a position opposed to the receiver PASS2. At this time, the main transport mechanism T2 holds a wafer W received from a cooling unit CP2 accessed immediately before. The main transport mechanism T2 places this wafer W on the receiver PASS2B (step S21 a), and holds the wafer W present on the receiver PASS2A (step S9 a).
  • The main transport mechanism T2 accesses the edge exposing unit EEW2. The main transport mechanism T2 receives a wafer W having received a predetermined treatment in the edge exposing unit EEW2, and loads the cooled wafer W into the edge exposing unit EEW2. While spinning the wafer W loaded therein, the edge exposing unit EEW2 irradiates peripheral regions of the wafer W with light from the light emitter not shown, thereby exposing the peripheral regions of the wafer W (step S10 a).
  • The main transport mechanism T2, holding the wafer W received from the edge exposing unit EEW2, accesses the receiver PASS5. The main transport mechanism T2 places the wafer W on the receiver PASS5A (step S11 a), and holds a wafer W present on the receiver PASS5B (step S16 a).
  • The main transport mechanism T2 moves to one of the cooling units CP2, and replaces a wafer W in the cooling unit CP2 with the wafer W held by the main transport mechanism T2. The main transport mechanism T2 holds the wafer W having received cooling treatment, and accesses one of the developing units DEV2. The cooling unit CP2 starts treatment of the newly loaded wafer W (step S17 a).
  • The main transport mechanism T2 takes a developed wafer W from the developing unit DEV2, and places the cooled wafer W on the spin holder 77 of the developing unit DEV2. The developing unit DEV2 develops the wafer W placed on the spin holder 77 (step S18 a). Specifically, while the spin holder 77 spins the wafer W in horizontal posture, the developer is supplied from one of the slit nozzles 81 a to the wafer W, thereby developing the wafer W.
  • The main transport mechanism T2 holds the developed wafer W, and accesses one of the heating units HP2. The main transport mechanism T2 takes a wafer W out of the heating unit HP2, and loads the wafer W it is holding into the heating unit HP2. Then, the main transport mechanism T2 transports the wafer W taken out of the heating unit HP2 to one of the cooling units CP2, and takes out a wafer W already treated in this cooling unit CP2. The heating unit HP2 and cooling unit CP2 carry out predetermined treatments for the newly loaded wafers W, respectively (steps S19 a and S20 a).
  • Subsequently, the main transport mechanism T2 accesses the receiver PASS2 again, and repeats the above operation. This operation is controlled by the third controller 95. As a result, the wafers W are forwarded to the receiver PASS5A in the order in which they are placed on the receiver PASS2A. Similarly, the wafers W are forwarded to the receiver PASS2B in the order in which they are placed on the receiver PASS5B.
  • IF Transport Mechanisms TIF—First Transport Mechanism TIFA and Second Transport Mechanism TIFB
  • When a wafer W is forwarded to the receiver PASS5, the sensor (not shown) provided for the receiver PASS5 detects the wafer W placed on the receiver PASS5. Then, the first transport mechanism TIFA accesses the receiver PASS5, and receives the wafer W placed on the receiver PASS5A (step S11 a). At this time, the control section 90 puts the wafer W received by the IF section 5 in a proper place in the order of loading into the treating section 3, so that an order in which wafers W are transported to the exposing machine EXP may agree with the order of wafers loaded into the treating section 3. Specifically, the control section 90 refers to the information specifying the order OA of loading into the treating section 3, and determines whether the wafer W received is a next wafer W to be transported to the exposing machine EXP. According to a result of this determination, the destination of the wafer W received by the first transport mechanism TIFA is changed. Two methods of this determination will be described first, and thereafter operation of first transport mechanism TIFA and second transport mechanism TIFB will be described.
  • Determining Method 1
  • The first method will be described with reference to FIG. 14. FIG. 14 is a view schematically showing information for determining the order of wafers W loaded into the treating section 3. FIG. 14 shows information on a relationship of identification information on wafers W matched with the order OA of wafers W loaded into the treating section 3 (hereinafter called “relational information”). In this relational information, “Wa”, “Wb”, . . . , and “Wh” are identification information which identifies each wafer W, and “1”, “2”, . . . , and “8” indicate the order OA of loading into the treating section 3. The relational information shown in FIG. 14 corresponds to the example of transport of wafers W shown in FIG. 1.
  • Based on a wafer W actually received by the first transport mechanism TIFA, the control section 90 first acquires identification information applied to that wafer W. The control section 90 refers to the above relational information, and determines a place in the order OA matched with the identification information acquired. Further, the control section 90 determines a place in the order of the next wafer W to be transported to the exposing machine EXP, by counting a total of wafers W already transported to the exposing machine EXP. Then, the control section 90 determines whether the determined place in the order OA and the place in the order of the next wafer W to be transported to exposing machine EXP are in agreement. When they are found in agreement, the control section 90 determines that the wafer W received is the next wafer W to be transported to the exposing machine EXP. When not in agreement, the control section 90 determines that the wafer W received is not the next wafer W to be transported to the exposing machine EXP.
  • For example, if the identification information on the wafer W received by the first transport mechanism TIFA is “Wb”, the place in the order OA matched therewith is “2” (see FIG. 14). If one wafer W has already been transported to the exposing machine EXP when the first transport mechanism TIFA receives this wafer W, the place in the order of the next wafer W to be transported is “2”. When the place in the order OA (“2”) of the wafer W received by the first transport mechanism TIFA agrees with the next place in the order (“2”) for transport to the exposing machine EXP, the wafer W received is determined to be the next wafer W transported to the exposing machine EXP.
  • Determining Method 2
  • The second method will be described with reference to FIGS. 15, 16A and 16B. FIG. 15 is a view schematically showing information for determining the order of wafers W loaded into the treating section 3. FIG. 15 shows information on the substrate treatment lines Lu and Ld to which wafers W are transported, and which are selectively matched with the order OA of wafers W loaded into the treating section 3. The relational information shown in FIG. 15 also corresponds to the example of transport of wafers W shown in FIG. 1.
  • Concerning the substrate treatment lines Lu and Ld, the order of wafers W fed from each of the substrate treatment lines Lu and Ld is the same as the order of wafers W loaded into each of the substrate treatment lines Lu and Ld. Considering this fact, the relational information shown in FIG. 15 leads to the relational information shown in FIGS. 16A and 6B. FIG. 16A is information showing a relationship of the order OA of wafers W loaded into the treating section 3 which is matched with the order OB of wafers W fed from the substrate treatment line Lu to the IF section 5. FIG. 16B is information showing the order OA of wafers W loaded into the treating section 3 which is matched with the order OC of wafers W fed from the substrate treatment line Ld to the IF section 5.
  • The control section 90 first determines that, when the first transport mechanism TIFA receives a wafer W from the receiver PASS5, the wafer W is fed from the substrate treatment line Lu. At this time, the control section 90 determines the order OB of wafers W fed from the substrate treatment line Lu. Then, the control section 90 refers to the relational information shown in FIG. 15 (or FIG. 16A), and determines the order OA matched with the order OB. On the other hand, the control section 90 determines that, when the first transport mechanism TIFA receives a wafer W from the receiver PASS6, the wafer W is fed from the substrate treatment line Ld, and determines the order OC of wafers W fed from the substrate treatment line Ld. In this case, the control section 90 refers to the relational information shown in FIG. 15 (or FIG. 16B), and determines the order OA matched with the order OC.
  • The control section 90 determines also the order of wafers W to be transported to the exposing machine EXP. Then, the control section 90 determines whether the place in the order of a wafer W to be transported next to the exposing machine EXP agrees with its place in the order OA. When they are found in agreement, the control section 90 determines that the wafer W received is the next wafer W to be transported to the exposing machine EXP. When not in agreement, the control section 90 determines that the wafer W received is not the next wafer W to be transported to the exposing machine EXP.
  • For example, if one wafer W has already been received from the receiver PASS5 when the first transport mechanism TIFA receives a wafer W from the receiver PASS5, this wafer W has place “2” in the order OB and place “3” in the order OA (see FIG. 15 or FIG. 16A). If one wafer W has already been transported to the exposing machine EXP when the first transport mechanism TIFA receives this wafer W, the place in the order of the next wafer W to be transported is “2”. When the place in the order OA (“3”) of the wafer W received by the first transport mechanism TIFA does not agree with the next place in the order (“2”) for transport to the exposing machine EXP, the wafer W received is determined not to be the next wafer W transported to the exposing machine EXP.
  • The relational information shown in FIG. 15 or FIGS. 16A and 16B includes the substrate treatment lines Lu and Ld, but this is not limitative. The technical meaning does not change even if the substrate treatment lines Lu and Ld are replaced by the stories K2 and K4, respectively, for example. That is, even with this replacement, the control section 90 can determine, as in determining method 2 described above, whether a wafer W received is the next wafer W to be transported to the exposing machine EXP.
  • When a determination is made, with determining method 1 or 2 described above, that a wafer W received is the next wafer W to be transported to the exposing machine EXP, the control section 90 carries out the following control. The first transport mechanism TIFA holds the wafer W received, moves to the receiver PASS-CP, and loads the wafer W into the PASS-CP (step S12). Then, the second transport mechanism TIFB takes the wafer W out of the receiver PASS-CP, and transports it to the exposing machine EXP. The wafer W is exposed in the exposing machine EXP (step S13).
  • On the other hand, when a determination is made that the wafer W received is not the next wafer W to be transported to the exposing machine EXP, the control section 90 carries out the following control. The first transport mechanism TIFA holds the wafer W received, moves to the buffers BF, and places the wafer W in one of the buffers BF. (This step is omitted from FIG. 12. See FIG. 13.)
  • The control section 90 determines whether the wafer W placed in the buffer BF is now the next wafer W to be transported to the exposing machine EXP. The control section 90 determines a place in the order OA of each wafer W placed in a buffer BF when the wafer W is received from the treating section 3. Therefore, the order OA already determined is compared with the order OE of wafers W to be transported to the exposing machine EXP, to determine whether they are in agreement for each wafer W. When in agreement, the control section 90 determines that the wafer W is the next one to be transported to the exposing machine EXP.
  • In this case, the control section 90 carries out the following control. The first transport mechanism TIFA accesses the buffers BF, takes out the wafer W for which the orders are in agreement, and loads the wafer W into the receiver PASS-CP (step S12). Then, the second transport mechanism TIFB takes this wafer W out of the receiver PASS-CP, and transports it to the exposing machine EXP (step S13).
  • Even when a wafer W placed in a buffer BF is determined to be the next one to be transported to the exposing machine EXP, if a wafer W is being fed from either substrate treatment line L, it is preferable to give priority to receipt of the wafer W fed from the substrate treatment line L.
  • Reference is made to FIG. 17. FIG. 17 gives views schematically showing how eight wafers W fed from both substrate treatment lines Lu and Ld are transported through the IF section 5 to the exposing machine EXP, the views reflecting the progress of time from (a) to (j). FIGS. 17A through 17J correspond to the example of transport of wafers W shown in FIG. 1.
  • In the course of time from the point in time of FIG. 17A to the point in time of FIG. 17J, wafers Wa, Wc, We, Wb, Wg, Wd, Wf and Wh are fed in this order from the treating section 3, and wafers Wa, Wb, Wc, Wd, We, Wf, Wg and Wh are transported in this order to the exposing machine EXP.
  • In FIG. 17A, wafer Wa fed from the substrate treatment line Lu is transported to the exposing machine EXP without being placed in a buffer BF. In FIG. 17D, wafer Wb is transported similarly, and in FIG. 17F, wafer Wd is transported similarly. The substrate transport shown in FIGS. 17A, 17D and 17F is the case where the control section 90 determines that each wafer W received is the next wafer W to be transported to the exposing machine EXP.
  • In FIG. 17B, wafer Wc fed from the substrate treatment line Lu is placed in a buffer BF. In FIG. 17C, wafer We is transported similarly, in FIG. 17E, wafer Wg is transported similarly, in FIG. 17G, wafer Wf is transported similarly, and in FIG. 17H, wafer Wh is transported similarly. The substrate transport shown in FIGS. 17B, 17C, 17E, 17G and 17H is the case where the control section 90 determines that each wafer W received is not the next wafer W to be transported to the exposing machine EXP.
  • In FIG. 17E, wafer Wc is transported from the buffer BF to the exposing machine EXP. In FIG. 17G, wafer We is transported similarly, and in FIGS. 17H, 17I and 17J, wafer Wf, wafer Wg and wafer Wh are transported similarly, respectively. The substrate transport shown in FIGS. 17E and 17G through 17J is the case where the control section 90 determines that each wafer W placed in the buffer BF is the next wafer W to be transported to the exposing machine EXP.
  • At the time of FIG. 17E, wafer Wg is fed from the substrate treatment line Lu, and wafer Wc placed in the buffer BF is determined the next wafer W to be transported to the exposing machine EXP. In such a case, it is preferable to receive wafer Wg fed from the substrate treatment line Lu first, and thereafter to transport wafer Wc to the exposing machine EXP. This permits the substrate treatment line Lu to feed promptly wafer W following wafer Wg (not shown in FIGS. 17A through 17J). As a result, a lowering of substrate transporting efficiency and treating efficiency is prevented. Similarly, in FIG. 17G, it is preferable to receive wafer Wf fed from the substrate treatment line Ld first, and thereafter to transport wafer We to the exposing machine EXP. This permits the substrate treatment line Ld to feed promptly wafer Wh following wafer Wf. In FIG. 17H, it is preferable to receive wafer Wh fed from the substrate treatment line Ld, and thereafter to transport wafer Wf to the exposing machine EXP.
  • Other operation of the first transport mechanism TIFA will be described. The first transport mechanism TIFA receives a wafer W from the receiver PASS7 (step S14), and moves to a position opposed to one of the heating and cooling units PHP2. The first transport mechanism TIFA takes a wafer W having received PEB treatment from the heating and cooling unit PHP2, and loads the wafer W received from the receiver PASS7 into the heating and cooling unit PHP2. The heating and cooling unit PHP2 carries out heat treatment for the newly loaded wafer W (step S15 a).
  • The first transport mechanism TIFA transports the wafer W taken out of the heating and cooling unit PHP2 to the receiver PASS5B. Subsequently, the first transport mechanism TIFA transports a wafer W from the receiver PASS6A to the receiver PASS-CP (Step S11 b, S12). Next, the first transport mechanism TIFA transports a wafer W from the receiver PASS7 to one of the heating and cooling units PHP4. At this time, the first transport mechanism TIFA takes out a wafer W having received the PEB treatment in the heating and cooling unit PHP4, and places the wafer W on the receiver PASS6B (steps S14, S15 b, S16 b).
  • Subsequently, the first transport mechanism TIFA accesses the receiver PASS5 again and repeats the above operation. This operation is controlled by the sixth controller.
  • Other operation of the second transport mechanism TIFB will be described. The second transport mechanism TIFB takes a wafer W out of the receiver PASS-CP, and transports it to the exposing machine EXP. The wafer W is exposed in the exposing machine EXP (step S13).
  • Subsequently, the second transport mechanism TIFB accesses the receiver PASS-CP again and repeats the above operation.
  • In the substrate treating apparatus according to this embodiment, as described above, the order of wafers W to be transported to the exposing machine EXP is adjusted to the order OA of wafers W loaded into the treating section 3, whereby the order OE of wafers W transported to the exposing machine EXP corresponds to the order OA of loading into the treating section 3. Therefore, each wafer W can be controlled easily. A follow-up check can also be performed easily on the history of treatment of each wafer W in the treating section 3 or the exposing machine EXP.
  • Since the order (corresponding to the order OD) of wafers W fed from the substrate treatment lines Lu and Ld is adjusted in the IF section 5, there is no need to adjust timing of substrate feeding between the substrate treatment lines Lu and Ld. This allows each of the substrate treatment lines Lu and Ld to proceed with treatment of wafers W independently. Thus, there is no need for coordination between the second and third controllers 94 and 95 which control the substrate treatment line Lu, and the fourth and fifth controllers 96 and 97 which control the substrate treatment line Ld. This enable a reduction in the burden of the controls carried out by the second to fifth controllers 94-97.
  • When wafers W are fed to the receivers PASS5 and PASS6, the first transport mechanism TIFA will receive the wafers W placed on the receivers PASS5 and PASS6. This enables the substrate treatment lines Lu and Ld (stories K3 and K4) to feed new wafers W immediately, thereby preventing a lowering of the treating efficiency of the substrate treatment lines L due to the feeding of wafers W.
  • The IF section 5 with the buffers BF can conveniently adjust the order OE of wafers W received by the IF section 5 to the order OD of wafers W transported to the exposing machine EXP. Further, the order OE can be secured effectively since, when a wafer W placed in a buffer BF becomes the next wafer W to be transported to the exposing machine EXP, the control section 90 causes this wafer W to be transported to the exposing machine EXP.
  • The buffers BF can receive or store a plurality of wafers W, which enables an effective adjustment to the order OE.
  • The control section 90 refers to the information for determining the order OA of loading into the treating section 3 as illustrated in FIG. 15 or FIGS. 16A and 16B, to determine effectively whether a wafer W received by the first transport mechanism TIFA is the next wafer W to be transported to the exposing machine EXP.
  • The ID section 1, in loading wafers W into the treating section 3, distributes the wafers W regularly and alternately to the stories K1 and K3 (see FIG. 1). Thus, wafers W can be transported to the substrate treatment lines L at substantially the same pace. This inhibits variations in operation between the substrate treatment lines L.
  • Embodiments of the present invention are not limited to the foregoing embodiments, but may be modified as follows:
  • (1) In the foregoing embodiment, the buffers BF is accessible only to the first transport mechanism TIFA, and wafers W are transferred from the first transport mechanism TIFA to the second transport mechanism TIFB only through the receiver PASS-CP. The invention is not limited to this construction. For example, the buffers BF may be constructed accessible to the first and second transport mechanisms TIFA and TIFB, and wafers W may be transferred between the first and second transport mechanisms TIFA and TIFB through the buffers BF as well as the receiver PASS-CP.
  • Specifically, a modification may be made such that, when the control section 90 determines that a wafer W placed in one of the buffers BF has become the next wafer W to be transported to the exposing machine EXP, the second transport mechanism TIFB accesses the buffer BF, takes out the wafer W determined to be in agreement, and transports it to the exposing machine EXP. FIG. 18 is a view schematically showing operations repeated by the first and second transport mechanisms TIFA and TIFB in such a modified embodiment for transporting wafers W as noted above.
  • This modification can omit the operation of the first transport mechanism TIFA to access the buffer BF in order to take the wafer W out of the buffer BF, thereby improving transporting efficiency. Even if a wafer is fed from one of the substrate treatment lines L when a different wafer W placed in a buffer BF is determined the next wafer W to be transported to the exposing machine EXP, the first transport mechanism TIFA may receive the wafer W from the substrate treatment line L, with the second transport mechanism TIFB transporting the different wafer W to the exposing machine EXP. That is, the first transport mechanism TIFA need not engage in receipt from the substrate treatment line L and transport to the exposing machine EXP in the order of priority as done in the foregoing embodiment. Thus, the control burden of the sixth controller 98 is lightened.
  • (2) In the foregoing embodiment, the information for determining the order OA of wafers W loaded into the treating section 3 as illustrated in FIGS. 14 and 15 has been described as set to the control section 90 beforehand. The invention is not limited to this. For example, the order OA of loading may be acquired through cooperation with the first controller 91 which controls ID transport mechanism TID.
  • (3) In the foregoing embodiment, the buffers BF have been described as capable of receiving or storing a plurality of wafers W. Instead, only one wafer W may be received or stored at a time.
  • (4) In the foregoing embodiment, when the wafer W received by the first transport mechanism TIFA is not the next wafer W to be transported to the exposing machine EXP, the first transport mechanism TIFA simply places the wafer W in one of the buffers BF. Instead, the following arrangement may be adopted. Different buffers BF may be assigned to receiving wafers W fed from each substrate treatment line L. As far as each of the substrate treatment lines Lu and Ld is concerned, wafers W are loaded into and unloaded from each substrate treatment line Lu or Ld in the same order OB or OC. Thus, by placing wafers W fed from the substrate treatment lines L in different buffers BF, the order OE of wafers W to be transported to the exposing machine EXP can be adjusted simply in the IF section 5.
  • (5) The foregoing embodiment may be further modified to stop loading wafers W from the ID section 1 into the treating section 3 when the wafers W currently placed in the buffers BF exceed a predetermined number. If the buffers BF were unable to receive any further wafers W, it would be impossible to feed wafers W smoothly from the treating section 3 to the IF section 5. If wafers W were loaded into the treating section 3 under such circumstances, variations would occur with wafers W in the time taken from loading into the treating section 3 to feeding from the treating section 3, resulting in deterioration in the quality of treatment of the wafers W, for example. However, according to this modification, loading of wafers W from the ID section 1 into the treating section 3 is stopped when the wafers W placed in the buffers BF exceed a predetermined number. Thus, the deterioration in the quality of treatment of the wafers W noted above can be precluded.
  • (6) In the foregoing embodiment, IF transport mechanisms TIF have been described as including the first transport mechanism TIFA and the second transport mechanism TIFB. The invention is not limited to this. It may be modified to provide one transport mechanism or three or more transport mechanisms.
  • (7) In the foregoing embodiment, wafers W loaded from the ID section 1 into the treating section 3 are distributed alternately to the stories K1 and K3. A method of distribution may be varied and selected as appropriate. For example, wafers W loaded from the ID section 1 into the treating section 3 may be distributed in units of two or more to the substrate treatment lines L. The ratio of wafers W transported to the substrate treatment lines L may be made equal or different between the substrate treatment lines L.
  • (8) In the foregoing embodiment, it has been described that, even when a wafer W placed in a buffer BF is determined to be the next one to be transported to the exposing machine EXP, if a wafer W is being fed from either substrate treatment line L, it is preferable to give priority to receipt of the wafer W fed from the substrate treatment line L. The invention is not limited to this. Priority may be given to the operation to transport the wafer W placed in the buffer BF to the exposing machine EXP.
  • (9) The foregoing embodiment provides two substrate treatment lines L, but the invention not limited to this. The construction may be modified to include three or more substrate treatment lines L vertically arranged in multiple stages.
  • (10) In the foregoing embodiment, the substrate treatment lines L are arranged one over the other, but the invention is not limited to this. For example, a plurality of substrate treatment lines may be arranged sideways or horizontally. Or a plurality of substrate treatment lines may be arranged sideways as well as vertically.
  • (11) In the foregoing embodiment, the treating section 3 is formed of two treating blocks Ba and Bb arranged in juxtaposition, but the invention not limited to this. For example the treating section 3 may be formed of a single block, or three or more blocks. A single treating block providing the substrate treatment line Lu and a single treating block providing the substrate treatment line Ld may be arranged one over the other.
  • (12) In the foregoing embodiment, the substrate treatment lines L carry out the treatment for forming resist film and antireflection film on the wafers W, as well as the post-exposure baking (PEB) treatment and developing treatment. The substrate treatment lines L may be modified to perform other treatment such as cleaning of the wafers W. Accordingly, the type, number and the like of treating units are selected or designed as appropriate.
  • This invention may be embodied in other specific forms without departing from the spirit or essential attributes thereof and, accordingly, reference should be made to the appended claims, rather than to the foregoing specification, as indicating the scope of the invention.

Claims (23)

1. A substrate treating apparatus comprising:
a treating section including a plurality of substrate treatment lines for treating substrates while transporting the substrates substantially horizontally, the substrate treatment lines being capable of treating the substrates in parallel; and
an interface section disposed adjacent to the treating section for transporting the substrates fed from the substrate treatment lines to an exposing machine provided separately from the apparatus, wherein the substrates are transported to the exposing machine in an order in which the substrates are loaded into the treating section.
2. The apparatus according to claim 1, wherein the substrate treatment lines are arranged one over another.
3. The apparatus according to claim 1, wherein the interface section is arranged to adjust an order of the substrates fed from the substrate treatment lines to the order in which the substrates are loaded into the treating section.
4. The apparatus according to claim 1, wherein the interface section includes:
an interface transport mechanism for transporting the substrates to and from each of the substrate treatment lines and the exposing machine; and
a buffer unit for temporarily storing the substrates,
wherein the interface transport mechanism is arranged, when a substrate is fed from one of the substrate treatment lines, to receive the substrate and to transport the substrate received to the exposing machine when the substrate is a next substrate to be transported to the exposing machine, and to place the substrate received in the buffer unit when the substrate is different from a next substrate to be transported to the exposing machine.
5. The apparatus according to claim 4, wherein the interface transport mechanism is arranged, when a substrate placed in the buffer unit becomes a next substrate to be transported to the exposing machine, to transport the substrate from the buffer unit to the exposing machine.
6. The apparatus according to claim 5, wherein the interface transport mechanism is arranged, when a substrate is being fed from one of the substrate treatment lines even when a substrate placed in the buffer unit becomes a next substrate to be transported to the exposing machine, to receive the fed substrate by priority.
7. The apparatus according to claim 4, wherein the interface transport mechanism includes:
a first transport mechanism for transporting the substrates to and from each of the substrate treatment lines and the buffer unit; and
a second transport mechanism for transferring the substrates to and from the first transport mechanism and transporting the substrates to and from the exposing machine,
wherein the first transport mechanism is arranged to transfer the substrate received from one of the substrate treatment lines to the second transport mechanism when the substrate is a next substrate to be transported to the exposing machine, to place the substrate received in the buffer unit when the substrate is different from a next substrate to be transported to the exposing machine, and when a substrate placed in the buffer unit becomes a next substrate to be transported to the exposing machine, to transfer the substrate from the buffer unit to the second transport mechanism, and
wherein the second transport mechanism is arranged to transport a substrate received from the first transport mechanism to the exposing machine.
8. The apparatus according to claim 4, wherein the interface transport mechanism includes:
a first transport mechanism for transporting the substrates to and from each of the substrate treatment lines and the buffer unit; and
a second transport mechanism for transferring the substrates to and from the first transport mechanism and transporting the substrates to and from the buffer unit and the exposing machine
wherein the first transport mechanism is arranged to transfer the substrate received from one of the substrate treatment lines to the second transport mechanism when the substrate is a next substrate to be transported to the exposing machine, and to place the substrate received in the buffer unit when the substrate is different from a next substrate to be transported to the exposing machine, and
wherein the second transport mechanism is arranged to transport a substrate received from the first transport mechanism to the exposing machine, and when a substrate placed in the buffer unit becomes a next substrate to be transported to the exposing machine, to transport the substrate from the buffer unit to the exposing machine.
9. The apparatus according to claim 4, wherein the interface transport mechanism is arranged to change positions of substrates placed in the buffer unit according to the substrate treatment lines from which the substrates are fed.
10. The apparatus according to claim 1, wherein the order in which the substrates are loaded into the treating section is determined based on a relationship of substrate identifying information with the order in which the substrates are loaded into the treating section.
11. The apparatus according to claim 1, wherein the order in which the substrates are loaded into the treating section is determined based on a relationship of the substrate treatment lines transporting the substrates with the order in which the substrates are loaded into the treating section.
12. A substrate treating apparatus comprising:
a treating section including a plurality of treating blocks arranged in juxtaposition, each having treating units arranged on each of vertical stories for treating substrates, and a main transport mechanism provided on each story for transporting the substrates to and from the treating units on the each story, the main transport mechanisms on the same story of adjacent treating blocks being constructed to transfer the substrates to and from each other, the treating blocks arranged at opposite ends acting as a first treating block and a second treating block, respectively, the substrates receiving a series of treatments on each story while the substrates loaded into each story of the first treating block are transported to the second treating block through the same story of each treating block;
an indexer section disposed adjacent the first treating block for transporting the substrates to each story of the first treating block;
an interface section disposed adjacent the second treating block and having an interface transport mechanism for transporting the substrates to and from each story of the second treating block and an exposing machine provided separately from the apparatus; and
a controller for controlling the interface transport mechanism to transport the substrates fed from the second treating block to the exposing machine in an order in which the substrates are loaded into the first treating block.
13. The apparatus according to claim 12, wherein, under control of the controller, the interface transport mechanism is arranged to adjust the substrates fed from the second treating block to the order in which the substrates are loaded into the first treating block.
14. The apparatus according to claim 12 wherein the interface section includes a buffer unit for temporarily storing the substrates and wherein, under control of the controller, the interface transport mechanism is arranged to transport the substrate received from the second treating block to the exposing machine when the substrate is a next substrate to be transported to the exposing machine, and to place the substrate received in the buffer unit when the substrate is different from a next substrate to be transported to the exposing machine.
15. The apparatus according to claim 14 wherein, under control of the controller, the interface transport mechanism is arranged, when a substrate placed in the buffer unit becomes a next substrate to be transported to the exposing machine, to transport the substrate from the buffer unit to the exposing machine.
16. The apparatus according to claim 15 wherein, under control of the controller, the interface transport mechanism is arranged, when a substrate is being fed from the second treating block even when a substrate placed in the buffer unit becomes a next substrate to be transported to the exposing machine, to receive the fed substrate by priority.
17. The apparatus according to claim 14, wherein the interface transport mechanism includes:
a first transport mechanism for transporting the substrates to and from each story of the second treating block and the buffer unit; and
a second transport mechanism for transferring the substrates to and from the first transport mechanism and transporting the substrates to and from the exposing machine
wherein, under control of the controller, the first transport mechanism is arranged to transfer the substrate received from each story of the second treating block to the second transport mechanism when the substrate is a next substrate to be transported to the exposing machine, to place the substrate received in the buffer unit when the substrate is different from a next substrate to be transported to the exposing machine, and when a substrate placed in the buffer unit becomes a next substrate to be transported to the exposing machine, to transfer the substrate from the buffer unit to the second transport mechanism; and
wherein the second transport mechanism is arranged to transport a substrate received from the first transport mechanism to the exposing machine.
18. The apparatus according to claim 14, wherein the interface transport mechanism includes:
a first transport mechanism for transporting the substrates to and from each story of the second treating block and the buffer unit; and
a second transport mechanism for transferring the substrates to and from the first transport mechanism and transporting the substrates to and from the buffer unit and the exposing machine;
wherein, under control of the controller, the first transport mechanism is arranged to transfer the substrate received from each story of the second treating block to the second transport mechanism when the substrate is a next substrate to be transported to the exposing machine, and to place the substrate received in the buffer unit when the substrate is different from a next substrate to be transported to the exposing machine, and
wherein the second transport mechanism is arranged to transport a substrate received from the first transport mechanism to the exposing machine, and when a substrate placed in the buffer unit becomes a next substrate to be transported to the exposing machine, to transport the substrate from the buffer unit to the exposing machine.
19. The apparatus according to claim 14 wherein the controller is arranged to stop loading the substrates from the indexer section into the treating section when the substrates placed in the buffer unit exceeds a predetermined number.
20. The apparatus according to claim 12 wherein the controller is arranged to adjust an order of the substrates to be transported to the exposing machine based on a relationship of substrate identifying information with the order in which the substrates are loaded from the indexer section into the treating section.
21. The apparatus according to claim 12 wherein the controller is arranged to adjust an order of the substrates to be transported to the exposing machine based on a relationship of the stories of the first treating block transporting the substrates with the order in which the substrates are loaded from the indexer section into the treating section.
22. The apparatus according to claim 12 wherein the indexer section is arranged to distribute the substrate loaded into the treating section regularly and alternately to the stories of the first treating block.
23. The apparatus according to claim 12 wherein
the treating section includes coating blocks and developing blocks as the treating blocks, and
each of the coating blocks has resist film coating units as the treating units for applying a resist film material to the substrates, and
each of the developing blocks has developing units as the treating units for supplying a developer to the substrates.
US12/343,302 2007-12-28 2008-12-23 Substrate treating apparatus with substrate reordering Abandoned US20090165711A1 (en)

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