WO2007080523A1 - Maglev object positioning apparatus and method for positioning an object and maintaining position with high stability - Google Patents

Maglev object positioning apparatus and method for positioning an object and maintaining position with high stability Download PDF

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Publication number
WO2007080523A1
WO2007080523A1 PCT/IB2007/050021 IB2007050021W WO2007080523A1 WO 2007080523 A1 WO2007080523 A1 WO 2007080523A1 IB 2007050021 W IB2007050021 W IB 2007050021W WO 2007080523 A1 WO2007080523 A1 WO 2007080523A1
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WO
WIPO (PCT)
Prior art keywords
stage
positioning apparatus
object
apparatus according
maglev
Prior art date
Application number
PCT/IB2007/050021
Other languages
French (fr)
Inventor
Johannes P. M. B. Vermeulen
Jan Van Eijk
Original Assignee
Koninklijke Philips Electronics N.V.
Priority date (The priority date is an assumption and is not a legal conclusion. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation as to the accuracy of the date listed.)
Filing date
Publication date
Priority to EP06100197.0 priority Critical
Priority to EP06100197 priority
Application filed by Koninklijke Philips Electronics N.V. filed Critical Koninklijke Philips Electronics N.V.
Publication of WO2007080523A1 publication Critical patent/WO2007080523A1/en

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Classifications

    • GPHYSICS
    • G03PHOTOGRAPHY; CINEMATOGRAPHY; ANALOGOUS TECHNIQUES USING WAVES OTHER THAN OPTICAL WAVES; ELECTROGRAPHY; HOLOGRAPHY
    • G03FPHOTOMECHANICAL PRODUCTION OF TEXTURED OR PATTERNED SURFACES, e.g. FOR PRINTING, FOR PROCESSING OF SEMICONDUCTOR DEVICES; MATERIALS THEREFOR; ORIGINALS THEREFOR; APPARATUS SPECIALLY ADAPTED THEREFOR
    • G03F7/00Photomechanical, e.g. photolithographic, production of textured or patterned surfaces, e.g. printing surfaces; Materials therefor, e.g. comprising photoresists; Apparatus specially adapted therefor
    • G03F7/70Exposure apparatus for microlithography
    • G03F7/70691Handling of masks or wafers
    • G03F7/70716Stages
    • 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
    • H01L21/68Apparatus 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 positioning, orientation or alignment
    • H01L21/682Mask-wafer alignment

Abstract

The proposed object positioning apparatus comprises a dynamically and thermally stable frame (1) and at least one stage (3), at least one maglev actuator assembly (4) for providing controllable electromagnetic movement, that is drive and/or guide capability of said stage, controlling means configured to drive and guide said maglev stage, and docking means (5) configured to establish a mechanical contact between said stage and said stable frame. Thus, first the object can be accurately moved to its desired position and then mechanically docked to a stiff and stable reference.

Description

Maglev object positioning apparatus and method for positioning an object and maintaining position with high stability

The invention relates to an object positioning apparatus using magnetic levitation (maglev) stage technology for positioning an object with high accuracy and a method for positioning an object and maintaining position with very high stability. The invention may be used among others in semiconductor industry, for wafer and mask imaging and processing or other applications with stability requirements at nanometer level or below.

The use of maglev stages for object positioning in charged particle lithography and microscopy is known in the art. In A.C.P. de Klerk, G. Z. Angelis, J. van Eijk, Design of a next generation 6-DoF stage for scanning applications in vacuum with nanometer accuracy and mGauss magnetic stray field, Proc. of the 19th ASPE Annual meeting, Orlando, Florida, October 24-29, 2004, pp 60-63, a maglev stage is disclosed using a combination of electromagnetic motors, active magnetic bearings, and magnetic shields. With the use of closed loop control, the proposed system achieves a high positioning accuracy and very high, theoretically infinite, (quasi)-static stiffness.

However, in order to achieve nanometer and sub-nanometer level stability that is needed for imaging and processing applications, among others in semiconductor industry, such systems require very stable position measuring systems, such as distance measuring inferometers (DMIs) or grating based measuring systems, in combination with high- bandwidth servo loops. These highly sophisticated components, however, significantly increase technical effort and cost for implementing such systems.

Among others, it is an object of the present invention to provide for an object positioning apparatus with (sub-) nanometer level stability after positioning that enables significant cost reduction of measurement and control system components.

It is a further object of the present invention to provide for a method to position an object and to maintain its position at (sub) nanometer-level stability. An object positioning apparatus according to one aspect of the invention is set forth in Claim 1. The object positioning apparatus comprises a dynamically and thermally stable frame and at least one stage or stage assembly, at least one maglev actuator assembly for providing controllable electromagnetic movement and/or bearing, that is drive and/or guide-capability of said stage or stage assembly, controlling means configured to drive and guide said stage or stage assembly through at least position and/or orientation feedback, and docking means configured to establish a mechanical contact between said stage or stage assembly and said stable frame.

During operation the object to be positioned is located on the stage. The use of a non-contact motion device, that is, the use of one or more non-contact electromagnetic drives and at least one maglev actuator assembly (either variable reluctance or Lorentz based), as apposed to existing contact-based solutions for driving and guiding a stage, allows for decoupling the object on the stage from the external and internal influences, such as dynamic and thermal disturbances. For maintaining position of the stage after positioning relative to the inspection or processing device, the use of a stiff and stable reference frame is advantageous for (sub-) nanometer level stability, independent from external and internal influences.

For the purpose of stability after positioning, the concept of docking to said stiff and stable reference frame is proposed. Here, docking means that a mechanical contact between the stage and the stable reference frame is established to reliably keep the stage in the desired position and orientation. In this way, the need for extremely stable and expensive measuring systems and high-bandwidth servo loops can be eliminated.

Additionally, it is thus made possible to even improve the dynamic and thermal stability over the capabilities of solutions based on DMIs or grating based measuring systems, and high-bandwidth servo-loops.

Moreover, since disturbances from components in the position feedback loop, such as the actuators, measuring systems, amplifiers, signal converters and the motion controller, as well as the environment, can be significantly reduced by docking to said stiff and stable reference frame, almost instant wafer imaging and processing at (sub-) nanometer- level is made possible, avoiding settling times otherwise required for eliminating / stabilizing vibrations. This allows for a substantial increase of throughput, so that this cost-effective solution is particularly advantageous in a production environment.

A method for accurately positioning an object and maintaining its position according to another aspect of the invention is set forth in Claim 14. The method comprises the steps of positioning at least one free-floating stage or stage assembly at a desired position and establishing a mechanical contact between said stage or stage assembly and a stable frame.

Thus, advantageous effects are reached that correspond to those described above with reference to Claim 1.

For positioning, (sub-) nanometer level absolute position and uncertainty may be obtained, which, however, is not required for every application. Often, especially for inspection applications, the absolute position error and stage uncertainty that is allowed is about two or three orders of magnitude less critical than the stability requirement. If so, the use of expensive distance measuring interferometers or other measurement systems such as gratings can be avoided.

By providing, at the same time, the advantages of maglev stage positioning proceeded by a stiff and therefore stable mechanical contact between maglev stage and stable reference frame, both apparatus and method provide for extreme stability and may also be used in semiconductor and other applications.

According to the dependent claims, various embodiments of the present invention can be realized, of which some are described below:

By using docking means that comprise stiff mechanical contact elements made of high modulus materials, preferably hardened steel or ceramics in one embodiment, elements are selected that provide for a deterministic, stiff and stable contact between stage and reference frame. These contact elements may comprise spherical elements or sections of spherical elements, e.g. balls or ball sections on a flat surface.

In another embodiment, the docking means comprise means to provide sufficient preload on the established mechanical contacts. Thus, contact is established and held reliably during the entire phase of the stage being docked to the stable frame. Here, sufficient preload is determined by the stiffness requirement to create a sufficiently high natural frequency of the stage on the docking contacts, that, in turn depends on the disturbance level on the stable frame. In one embodiment, the preload may be produced by the maglev actuator or actuator assembly. In this case, no additional components are required. Alternatively or additionally, at least one permanent magnet and/or a vacuum chuck can be used for producing the preload, which allows the maglev actuator to be disabled during the phase of the stage remaining docked.

According to an embodiment, the mechanical contact can be configured along a first short structural loop circumferential to the center of said stage through the maglev actuators, said first structural loop lying within at least one second structural loop for stage positioning or a perpendicular translation thereof. In this way, the disadvantageous effects of a large structural loop for positioning (i.e. the "second loop", typically on the order of one meter) that occur in combination with conventional structural materials such as granite, steel, and aluminum can be significantly reduced. This is achieved by keeping the structural loop of the docking state (i.e., "first loop") small, which reduces thermal drift over time and increases natural frequencies and thus increases stability.

In order to decouple the stable frame from and/or reduce the effect of external dynamic and thermal influences, it is, in a further embodiment, isolated from or made robust for environmental disturbances. Such decoupling or reduction may be realized by using e.g. air mounts, either active or passive, materials with a low coefficient of thermal expansion (CTE), active temperature stabilization or a combination thereof.

In another embodiment, the apparatus comprises a reference frame, which is decoupled from the machine base frame to further enhance stability. By having two separate frames, the stable reference frame which the stage is being docked to can be entirely isolated from the base frame (and the structural loop) that is used for the positioning, i.e. movement, of the stage. This provides, in addition to even improved precision and stability against external influence such as floor vibrations, also isolation against internal disturbances, such as set-point induced vibrations, (quasi-) static forces and thermal deformations. In an embodiment of the method, the control system for positioning the stage is shortcut as soon as the mechanical contact is established. By performing this step, disturbances from among others the actuators, sensors and amplifiers, that is, noise and drift can be minimized when the stage remains docked. By creating a preload, the contact can be established and/or further stabilized.

In the following, the invention and further aspects will be described and explained hereinafter, using the following figures:

Fig. 1 shows a first exemplary embodiment of the invention with a planar stage when positioning the stage;

Fig. 2 shows a first exemplary embodiment of the invention with a planar stage when the stage is docked;

Fig. 3 shows a second exemplary embodiment of the invention with two separate linear stages when positioning the stages; Fig. 4 shows a second exemplary embodiment of the invention with two separate linear stages when the stages are docked;

Fig. 5 shows a third exemplary embodiment of the invention with the reference frame separately isolated from the machine base frame and with a planar stage when positioning the stage;

Fig. 6 shows a third exemplary embodiment of the invention with the reference frame separately isolated from the machine base frame and with a planar stage when the stage is docked;

Fig. 7 shows a fourth exemplary embodiment of the invention with the reference frame separately isolated from the machine base frame and with two linear stages when positioning the stages;

Fig. 8 shows a fourth exemplary embodiment of the invention with the reference frame separately isolated from the machine base frame and with two linear stages when the stages are docked.

Figure 1 shows a first exemplary embodiment of the proposed invention. A base frame 2, which is represented by the dotted area, serves as stable frame and is isolated against and/or made robust for thermal and dynamic influences, among others by air mounts 6 to isolate the machine from floor vibrations. A first set of maglev actuators 4 is fixed to the base frame 2 and interacts with a first so-called intermediate stage 3 to provide linear motion in one direction. (Vice versa, the first set of maglev actuators 4 may be fixed to said intermediate stage 3 to interact with base frame 2.) The second set of actuators 41 is fixed to said intermediate stage 3 and interacts with a second so-called carrier stage 31 to provide linear motion in an approximately orthogonal direction to said first direction. (Vice versa, the second set of maglev actuators 41 may be fixed to said carrier stage 31 to interact with said intermediate stage.) Thus, planar movement is provided for the object (stacked configuration). Chuck 8 serves to hold the object to be processed by imaging or processing device 7. Imaging or processing device 7, in this embodiment, is fixed to stable base frame 2. Ball- shaped spherical contact elements 5 are fixed to carrier stage 31. The broken ellipse indicates a relatively large structural loop (shown for one direction) of the maglev positioning means.

When positioning the object held on chuck 8, carrier stage 31 and/or intermediate stage 3 is moved to the desired position by maglev actuators 41 and/or 4 respectively. Once the position is reached, a deterministic, stiff and stable mechanical contact between carrier stage 31 and base frame 2 at contact elements 5 is established by creating preload on the contacts. This preload is generated by maglev actuators 41, but can also be created with the help of permanent magnets or vacuum chucks. As shown in Figure 2, ball- shaped contact elements 5, which are made from high-modulus materials for high stiffness, and so high natural frequency, thus have an interface with the flat surface of the base frame 2 when the stage is docked. While the stage remains docked, e.g. when the actual imaging or processing takes place, the position controlling means for driving and guiding the maglev stage during the accurately controlled movement of the stage to the desired position can be deactivated. By deactivating the controlling means, which may comprise among others actuators, amplifiers and sensors, disturbing influence on the accurate positioning of the object, such as noise and drift, is further reduced. Maglev actuators or other means can be used for preloading the contact elements 5. The broken ellipse here indicates the relatively short and stable structural loop (shown for one direction) of the docking means.

Independent of shortcutting the control means while the stage is docked, the proposed docking provides for a significant improvement. Since allowable absolute position error and stage uncertainty while moving is about two to three orders of magnitude less critical than the stability requirement of the finally positioned stage, expensive measurement systems, such as DMIs and gratings are not required.

Figure 3 shows a second exemplary embodiment of the proposed invention. Like in the embodiment aforementioned, base frame 2 serves as stable frame and is isolated from floor vibrations by air mounts 6. Thermal isolation and robustness can - in all embodiments - be realized with the help of thermal shielding, materials with a low coefficient of thermal expansion (CTE) or active temperature stabilization.

In this embodiment, two individual stages 3 and 31 are present. Each of them can be linearly guided by maglev actuators 4 and 41, respectively, oriented approximately orthogonally with respect to each other. The object to be processed is held by chuck 8 at the lower stage 3 while the imaging or processing device 7 is fixed to the upper stage 31. Lower stage 3 is equipped with contact elements 5 and upper stage 31 is equipped with contact elements 51. The relatively large structural loop of each of both actuator- stage interactions (shown for one direction) when moving the stage is again illustrated by a broken ellipse. As described before referring to the first embodiment, when docking, the lower stage 3 is moved upward to build a stable mechanical contact with frame 2 at contact elements 5, while the upper stage 31 is moved downward to build contact with frame 2 at contact elements 51.

This status is shown in Figure 4. Again, movement control means can be deactivated and the broken ellipse indicates the relatively short and stable structural loop of the docking means. As mentioned before, maglev actuators or other means can be used for preloading the contact elements 5 and 51 respectively.

Figure 5 shows a third exemplary embodiment. In this embodiment, again a planarly movable stage is used consisting of a first intermediate stage 3 with maglev actuators 4, and a second carrier stage 31 with maglev actuators 41. However, the stable frame 1, as represented by the dotted area, is provided separately and decoupled from base frame 2, as represented by the dashed area. In this way, stability is further enhanced and a higher throughput can be realized since here, the stable reference frame is decoupled from internal dynamic disturbances also, such as induced by acceleration forces, actuator noise and changing (quasi-) static loading from gravity or the process. Also, using a separate isolated frame, a further enhancement of thermal isolation may be applied to minimize the influence from room temperature variations, and heat load from actuators and sensors.

Similar to the embodiments described before, frame 1 is isolated from floor vibrations by air mounts 6. In this and the following Figures, air mounts 6 each build interfaces between base frame 2 and stable frame 1 , and are depicted in the background of stage 3. Alternatively, two sets of air mounts 6 can be applied, one for every frame (base frame 2 and stable frame 1 respectively), in series or in parallel with each other.

A first set of maglev actuators 4 is fixed to the base frame 2 and interacts with a first so-called intermediate stage 3 to provide linear motion in one direction (or vice versa, the first set of maglev actuators 4 may be fixed to said intermediate stage 3 to interact with base frame 2), while a second set of actuators 41 is fixed to said intermediate stage 3 and interacts with a second so-called carrier stage 31 to provide linear motion in an approximately orthogonal direction to said first direction (or vice versa, the second set of maglev actuators 41 may be fixed to said carrier stage 31 to interact with said intermediate stage). Thus, planar movement is provided for the object (stacked configuration) relative to base frame 2.

Thus the relatively large structural loop of the moving stage assembly consisting of carrier stage 31 and intermediate stage 3, maglev actuators 4 and/or 41 and the electromagnetic motors used for driving the individual stages, as indicated by the broken ellipse (shown for one direction), is one between stage assembly and base frame 2. As illustrated in Figure 6, when the docking is performed generally like in the other embodiments, carrier stage 31 is moved against stable frame 1 in the direction shown by the arrow, and thus is in stable contact with stable reference frame 1 at contact elements 5, given the necessary preload. Thus, the relatively short and stable structural loop between carrier stage 31 and stable frame 1 (shown for one direction) is provided as indicated by the broken ellipse. In this way, not only disturbing influences from the control means are avoided by shortcutting them but even the entire machine base frame can be shortcut to avoid disturbing influence.

In Figure 7, a fourth exemplary embodiment is shown. Like in the second embodiment, two individual linearly movable stages 3 and 31 are provided, which are each equipped with contact elements 5 and 51 , respectively. At the same time, similar to the third embodiment, a decoupled stable reference frame 1 (dotted) is provided separately from base frame 2 (dashed). Actuators 4 and 41 are located at the base frame and the relatively long structural loop of each of both actuator-stage interactions when moving the stage (shown for one direction) is one between base frame 2 and stages 3 and 31, respectively, again illustrated by a broken ellipse.

As illustrated in Figure 8, when docking, the lower stage 3 is moved upward to build a stable mechanical contact with stable reference frame 1 at contact elements 5, while the upper stage 31 is moved downward to build contact with stable reference frame 1 at contact elements 51. Thus, a short and stable structural loop (shown for one direction) is built between the stable frame 1 and each of stages 3 and 31.

With providing a mechanical docking of the stage, a solution providing high stiffness and extreme stability of an object is reached, which not only makes the use of expensive DMI or other measurement systems and high-bandwidth servo loops unnecessary but also, improves thermal and dynamic stability beyond the capabilities of DMI -based or other measurement systems. Since disturbances from actuators, sensors and amplifiers are minimized when controlling means are disabled while the stage is docked, almost instant wafer imaging and processing at (sub-) nanometer-level stability is enabled, which allows for throughput maximization in a production environment. This invention is not limited to an application in semiconductor processing such as wafer and mask (reticle) imaging, but might also be used in microscopy such as scanning electron microscopes and transmission electron microscopes, or other fields of application both in vacuum or atmospheric conditions. At the same time, the advantageous use of maglev actuators might be replaced by other non-contact motion devices that provide for a relatively large gap, i.e. in the order of a 0.1 to 1 mm.

To avoid unnecessary repetitions, explanations given for one of the various embodiments are intended to refer to the other embodiments as well, where applicable. In and between all embodiments, identical reference signs refer to elements of the same kind. Moreover, reference signs in the claims shall not be construed as limiting the scope. The use of "comprising" in this application does not mean to exclude other elements or steps and the use of "a" or "an" does not exclude a plurality. A single unit or element may fulfil the functions of a plurality of means recited in the claims.

LIST OF REFERENCE NUMERALS:

Frame Base frame Intermediate stage Maglev actuators Contact element Air mounds Processing device Chuck Carrier stage 41 Maglev actuators

51 Contact elements

Claims

CLAIMS:
1. An object positioning apparatus, comprising a stable frame (1, 2) and at least one stage or stage assembly (3, 31), further comprising: at least one maglev actuator assembly (4, 41) for providing controllable electromagnetic movement and/or bearing of said stage or stage assembly; - controlling means configured to drive and guide said stage or stage assembly through at least position and/or orientation feedback; and docking means configured to establish a mechanical contact between said stage or stage assembly and said stable frame.
2. The object positioning apparatus according to claim 1, wherein said docking means comprise stiff mechanical contact elements (5, 51) made of high modulus materials.
3. The object positioning apparatus according to claims 1 or 2, wherein said docking means comprise means to provide preload on said mechanical contact.
4. The object positioning apparatus according to claim 3, wherein said means to provide preload comprise said maglev actuator assembly.
5. The object positioning apparatus according to claims 3 or 4, wherein said means to provide preload comprise at least one permanent magnet.
6. The object positioning apparatus according to one of claims 3 to 5, wherein said means to provide preload comprise at least one vacuum chuck.
7. The object positioning apparatus according to one of claims 1 to 6, wherein said mechanical contact is configured along a first short structural loop circumferential to the center of said stage, said first structural loop lying within at least one second structural loop for stage positioning or a perpendicular translation thereof.
8. The object positioning apparatus according to one of claims 1 to 7, wherein said stable reference frame is isolated from and/or made robust for vibrations and/or thermal influences.
9. The object positioning apparatus according to claim 8, wherein said isolation or robustness is achieved using air mounts (6) and/or low-CTE-materials and/or active temperature stabilization means.
10. The object positioning apparatus according to one of claims 1 to 9, wherein said stable frame is configured as a reference frame (1) decoupled from a machine base frame
(2).
11. The object positioning apparatus according to one of claims 1 to 10, wherein said maglev actuator assembly (4, 41) is located on said base frame and/or said stage or stage assembly (3, 31).
12. The object positioning apparatus according to one of claims 1 to 11, wherein said contact elements comprise spherical elements and/or sections of spherical elements.
13. The object positioning apparatus according to one of claims 1 to 12, wherein said mechanical contact comprises a flat surface.
14. Method for accurately positioning an object and maintaining its position comprising the steps of: - Positioning at least one free-floating stage or stage assembly at a desired position
Establishing a mechanical contact between said stage or stage assembly and a stable frame.
15. Method according to claim 12, further comprising the step of shortcutting the control system for positioning said stage or stage assembly when said mechanical contact is established.
16. Method according to claim 12 or 13, wherein establishing said mechanical contact comprises creating a preload on said contact.
PCT/IB2007/050021 2006-01-10 2007-01-04 Maglev object positioning apparatus and method for positioning an object and maintaining position with high stability WO2007080523A1 (en)

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WO2000030172A2 (en) * 1998-11-18 2000-05-25 Leica Microsystems Lithography Gmbh System for receiving and retaining a substrate
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