WO2010132098A1 - Wafer handling device system and method - Google Patents

Wafer handling device system and method Download PDF

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Publication number
WO2010132098A1
WO2010132098A1 PCT/US2010/001385 US2010001385W WO2010132098A1 WO 2010132098 A1 WO2010132098 A1 WO 2010132098A1 US 2010001385 W US2010001385 W US 2010001385W WO 2010132098 A1 WO2010132098 A1 WO 2010132098A1
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WO
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Patent type
Prior art keywords
workpiece
defined
working fluid
orifice
surface
Prior art date
Application number
PCT/US2010/001385
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French (fr)
Inventor
Peter D'entremont
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Baker Solar, Inc.
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Classifications

    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B65CONVEYING; PACKING; STORING; HANDLING THIN OR FILAMENTARY MATERIAL
    • B65GTRANSPORT OR STORAGE DEVICES, e.g. CONVEYORS FOR LOADING OR TIPPING; SHOP CONVEYOR SYSTEMS; PNEUMATIC TUBE CONVEYORS
    • B65G47/00Article or material handling devices associated with conveyors; Methods employing such devices
    • B65G47/22Devices influencing the relative position or the attitude of articles during transit by conveyors
    • 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
    • H01L21/67703Apparatus 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 between different workstations
    • H01L21/67706Mechanical details, e.g. roller, belt
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B65CONVEYING; PACKING; STORING; HANDLING THIN OR FILAMENTARY MATERIAL
    • B65GTRANSPORT OR STORAGE DEVICES, e.g. CONVEYORS FOR LOADING OR TIPPING; SHOP CONVEYOR SYSTEMS; PNEUMATIC TUBE CONVEYORS
    • B65G47/00Article or material handling devices associated with conveyors; Methods employing such devices
    • B65G47/52Devices for transferring articles or materials between conveyors or sections of one conveyor, i.e. discharging and feeding devices
    • B65G47/525Devices for transferring articles or materials between conveyors or sections of one conveyor, i.e. discharging and feeding devices using fluid jets

Abstract

A transfer of material through a conveyor system is facilitated by the application of fluid pressure to a surface of the material so as to urge a further surface of the material against a supporting device.

Description

WAFER HANDLING DEVICE SYSTEM AND METHOD

Cross-Reference to Related Applications

[0001] Reserved

Field of the Invention

[0002] The present invention relates to process equipment, and more particularly to process equipment for material handling.

Background

[0003] Chemicals are applied to substrate material to produce certain physical properties in electronic, and other, devices. In one example it is known to apply a gaseous phase chemical to a semiconductor substrate to produce particular electronic properties in the substrate. In another example, it is known to apply a liquid phase chemical to a semiconductor substrate for similar purposes. In yet another example is known to apply a liquid phase chemical to an electronic circuit board substrate to etch particular electrically conductive patterns into a conductive layer of the electronic circuit board substrate.

[0004] In certain processes, the applied chemical is introduced adjacent to the substrate material by placing the substrate material in a chamber or container and then filling a region of the container with the applied chemical. In other processes, the applied chemical is introduced adjacent to the substrate material by placing the substrate material into a chamber or container that previously contains a measure of the applied chemical.

[0005] In certain processes, it is advantageous to introduce the substrate material into a processing chamber by transferring the material over a conveyor system including one or more of a belt, a roller, and a wheel, for example.

Summary

[0006] Having examined and understood a range of previously available devices, the inventor has developed a new and important understanding of the problems associated with the prior art. Out of this novel understanding, he has developed new and useful solutions and improved devices, including solutions and devices yielding surprising and beneficial results.

[0007] The invention encompassing these new and useful solutions and improved devices is described below in various aspects with reference to several exemplary embodiments including a preferred embodiment.

[0008] Among the aspects of the invention disclosed below, a flow of fluid is applied to help maintain a particular relationship between a conveyor and a workpiece. For example in certain embodiments, a flow of liquid is directed against one surface of a workpiece so as to increase an interaction between a further surface of the workpiece and a bearing surfaces of a conveyor device. In certain embodiments, the flow of fluid is a dynamic jet of fluid directed through a nozzle, at an upper surface of a silicon wafer. In one embodiment, the silicon wafer is a silicon photovoltaic device. A lower surface of a silicon wafer is supported on a conveyor device that includes, in various embodiments, a plurality of wheels, a plurality of rollers, a porous belt, a nonporous belt, and combinations thereof.

[0009] As will be understood by the creative practitioner of ordinary skill in the art, the dynamic jet of fluid serves to increase an apparent weight of the silicon wafer, and thus to increase frictional forces between a lower surface region of the wafer and an upper surface region of the conveyor device. According to one aspect of the invention, this increased friction is advantageous and helps to define a spatial relationship over time between the silicon wafer and the conveyor device. [0010] These and other advantages and features of the invention will be more readily understood in relation to the following detailed description of the invention, which is provided in conjunction with the accompanying drawings.

Brief Description of the Drawings

[0011] Fig. 1 shows, in perspective view, an exemplary work-in-process device along with a portion of a conveyor device according to certain aspects of the invention;

[0012] Fig. 2 shows, in cutaway perspective view, a portion of a flow-down stream device according to certain aspects of the invention;

[0013] Fig. 3 shows, in cutaway perspective view, a portion of a flow-down stream device including a flooded chamber according to certain further aspects of the invention;

[0014] Fig. 4 shows, in cutaway perspective view, a portion of a flow-down stream device including a submerged work-in-process device according to further aspects of the invention;

[0015] Fig. 5A shows, in cutaway perspective view, a portion of a flow-down stream device including a partially submerged manifold device according to further aspects of the invention;

[0016] Fig. 5B shows, in cutaway perspective view, a portion of a flow-down stream device including a fully submerged manifold device according to further aspects of the invention;

[0017] Fig. 6 shows, in perspective view, further aspects of a working fluid stream material control apparatus according to the invention;

[0018] Fig. 7 shows, in schematic block diagram form, further aspects of the invention according to various embodiments thereof; [0019] Fig. 8 shows, in schematic perspective view, various aspects of a system prepared according to principles of the invention, including a guide rail device;

[0020] Fig. 9 shows, in schematic perspective view, additional detail of a system prepared according to principles of the invention, including a guide rail device;

[0021] Fig. 10 shows, in cutaway perspective view, a portion of a processing system prepared according to principles of the invention;

[0022] Fig. 11 shows, in cutaway perspective view, further aspects of a processing system prepared according to principles of the invention;

[0023] Fig. 12 shows, in cutaway perspective view, still further aspects of a processing system prepared according to principles of the invention;

[0024] Fig. 13 shows, in cutaway perspective view, additional aspects of a processing system prepared according to principles of the invention;

[0025] Fig. 14 shows, in exploded perspective view, still further aspects of a processing system including baffles according to principles of the invention;

[0026] Fig. 15 shows, in exploded perspective view, still further aspects of a processing system including spray bars and processing devices according to principles of the invention;

[0027] Fig. 16 shows, in side elevation view, a further aspect of the arrangement of components and features shown in Fig. 15;

[0028] Fig. 17 shows, in cutaway schematic view, a further aspect of a system prepared according to principles of the invention, including graduated apertures; [0029] Fig. 18A shows, in cutaway schematic view, a further aspect of a system prepared according to principles of the invention, including integral apertures;

[0030] Fig. 18B shows, in cutaway schematic view, a further aspect of a system prepared according to principles of the invention, including discrete nozzels;

[0031] Fig. 19A shows, in cutaway schematic view, a further aspect of a system prepared according to principles of the invention, including staggered apertures; and

[0032] Fig. 19B shows, in cutaway schematic view, a further aspect of a system prepared according to principles of the invention, including staggered apertures and a diffusion bar.

Detailed Description

[0033] The following description is provided to enable any person skilled in the art to make and use the disclosed invention and sets forth the best modes presently contemplated by the inventor of carrying out his invention. In the following description, for purposes of explanation, numerous specific details are set forth in order to provide a thorough understanding of the present invention. It will be apparent, however, to one skilled in the art that the present invention may be practiced without these specific details. In other instances, well-known structures and devices are shown schematically or in block diagram form in order to avoid unnecessarily obscuring the present invention.

[0034] In order to improve controlled handling of material through processing equipment, it is advantageous to increase frictional forces between the material being processed and various surfaces of a conveyor system. For example, certain processing systems include a conveyor mechanism based on a plurality of wheels or rollers.

[0035] Fig.1 shows a portion of a processing system 100 including such a plurality of wheels or rollers, e.g., 102, 104, 106, 108. Each wheel or roller includes a circumferential surface, e.g. 110, 112, 114, 116. The wheels or rollers are arranged so that the circumferential surfaces are all disposed substantially tangent to a particular plane 118 (the Tangent Plane), and are disposed to support a surface region of a workpiece aligned in that plane. Thus, in one embodiment, a silicon wafer 120 has a substantially planar surface region 122 that is supported on, and tangent to, the plurality of wheels 102, 104, 106, 108. At a particular time, the silicon wafer is supported by a respective portion of the circumferential surface of several wheels.

[0036] Under most circumstances, the wheels of the conveyor device are arranged along substantially parallel axes e.g., 124, 126, 128. Under most circumstances it is desirable for the wafer to move in a straight line perpendicular to the axes (i.e., along a Target Path 130).

[0037] During normal processing, however, a silicon wafer is subjected to a variety of forces. These forces can cause an actual path of the wafer to deviate from the Target Path along a deviant path e.g., 132. For example, irregularities in the circumferential surface, e.g. 110, of a wheel can cause lateral forces that tend to curve the actual path of a wafer, or cause the wafer to rotate in the target plane. Likewise, variations in wheel diameter and variations in the driven speed or torque of the wheel can apply deviating forces to the wafer.

[0038] Any deviation in the path of one wafer can, in some circumstances, cause it to impinge on an adjacent wafer within the processing system. Thus a wafer may encounter forces due directly, or indirectly, to variations in the actual paths of other wafers. [0039] In various systems, an edge guide 134 is provided to help maintain a wafer 120 in alignment with a target path 130. Such an edge guide includes, in various embodiments, a guiding surface 136 adapted to engage slidingly with a corresponding edge surface 138 of the wafer 120 so as to direct a wandering wafer back towards the target path. In some embodiments, the guiding surface 136 includes a surface region disposed substantially vertically with respect to the conveyor device (i.e. substantially normal to the tangent plane). Under certain circumstances, edge guide surfaces can also apply undesirable rotational or other forces to a silicon wafer.

[0040] Dynamic streams of processing material are also directed towards some wafers in process. Thus, in some equipment, liquid chemicals or gaseous chemicals are sprayed towards the in-process wafers. These streams of liquid can also apply diverting forces to the wafer, causing the wafer path to diverge from the target path.

[0041] Having observed the operation of the above-noted forces and effects, and having arrived through diligent effort at an understanding of the same, the inventor has now developed inventive solutions and improvements as herewith disclosed. In particular, the inventor has understood that the directed application of a flow of material can be used to increase forces between the respective surfaces of, for example, a wafer and a conveyor, and thereby improve their interaction. Thus, for example, by applying a stream of liquid to an upper surface of a wafer, frictional forces can be increased between a lower surface of the same wafer and upper bearing surfaces of a conveyor device. This principle is exemplified in the operation of a system illustrated, in part, in Fig.2.

[0042] Fig. 2 shows a portion of a conveyor system 200 including a plurality of conveyor wheels 202, 204, 206, 208, 210. Each conveyer wheel is adapted to rotate about a respective axis of rotation 212, 214, 216, 218, 220. In the illustrated embodiment, these axes are disposed in spaced relation and substantially parallel with respect to one another. Each conveyor wheel has a circumferential surface e.g., 222, 224 adapted to support a work-in-process workpiece such as an exemplary silicon wafer 226. The circumferential surfaces 222, 224 have, in various embodiments, any technically useful profile including, for example, a semicircular profile, an elliptical profile, a flat profile, a ribbed profile, a studded profile, and combinations thereof, among others. The particular surface features of a roller are selected and applied according to the requirements of a particular application.

[0043] According to a further aspect of the invention, a device is provided for delivering a dynamic stream of material to a surface of the wafer. Thus, in Fig. 2 a manifold pipe 228 is disposed above the conveyor wheels 202, 204, 206, 208, 210. The manifold pipe includes a circumferential wall 230 having a substantially cylindrical (for example) internal surface 232 that defines an axial bore 235 within the manifold pipe. As is readily understood, the axial bore is adapted to receive a supply of fluid therethrough. A plurality of through-holes e.g. 234, 236, 238 traverse the circumferential wall 230 so that a corresponding plurality of streams of fluid e.g., 240 are directed towards, and impinge upon, an upper surface 244 of the silicon wafer 226.

[0044] The flow of fluid, e.g., 240, causes an increased downward force 246 on the wafer 226 that, for example, supplements the force of gravity. This increased downward force 246 is opposed by a corresponding upward force 248 at the surface regions of the conveyor wheels. A resulting increase in pressure, between a lower surface 250 of the wafer 226 and the circumferential surfaces 222, 224 of the conveyor wheels, increases frictional forces between the wafer surface 250 and the circumferential surfaces e.g., 222, 224, so that any tendency of the wafer 226 to slide across the conveyor device is correspondingly reduced.

[0045] The creative practitioner of ordinary skill in the art will appreciate that the fluid streams, e.g. 240, may include one or more of a gas, a liquid, a fluidized slurry, and a particulate solid. In certain embodiments, the fluid stream includes a processing material such as a processing chemical. Thus the fluid stream can, in certain embodiments, serve the dual purposes of applying desirable forces to the indicated surface of the workpiece while, at the same time, providing mass transfer of a desirable process input into a region adjacent to the workpiece. In other aspects of the invention, the fluid stream can include an inert material adapted to apply a desirable force to a surface of the workpiece without substantially affecting the activity of a physical or chemical process otherwise taking place.

[0046] In certain embodiments, the through-holes 238 are simple and have, for example a square, rectangular, or an elliptical peripheral edge. In other embodiments, the through-hole is adapted to receive a nozzle having a particular characteristic.

[0047] Fig. 3 shows another aspect of the invention, referred to as solution surface processing, in which a portion of a conveyor system 300 is similar to the conveyor system 200 described with respect to figure 2. Accordingly, conveyor system 300 includes a plurality of conveyor wheels 302, 304, 306, 308, 310 adapted to rotate about respective axes of rotation. Each conveyor wheel has a circumferential surface e.g., 322, 324 adapted to support a work- in-process workpiece such as an exemplary silicon wafer 326.

[0048] A manifold pipe 328 is disposed above the conveyor wheels 302, 304, 306, 308, 310. A plurality of through-holes e.g. 334, 336, 338 traverse a circumferential wall 330 so that a corresponding plurality of fluid streams e.g., 340 are directed towards an upper surface 344 of the silicon wafer 326.

[0049] As shown, the conveyor system 300 includes a surrounding enclosure 352 arranged to maintain a volume of a processing solution 354 in a region adjacent to the conveyor wheels 302, 304, 306, 308, 310 and the silicon wafer 326. According to certain aspects of the invention, an upper surface 356 of the processing solution 354 is arranged to be substantially adjacent to, or slightly higher than, for example, lower surface 356 of silicon wafer 326. Consequently, lower surface 356 is generally immersed within the processing solution 354 and experiences a physical or chemical effect. One of skill in the art will appreciate that a wide variety of such physical or

10 chemical effects may be desirable including, for example, cleaning, etching, rinsing coating, etc.

[0050] Under such circumstances, physical interactions between the work- in-process silicon wafers 326 and the processing solution 354 can be very important. For example, a surface tension of the processing solution 352 and a buoyancy of the silicon wafer 326 within the processing solution 352 can have a substantial effect on the above-noted frictional interaction between the surfaces, e.g. 322, 324, of the conveyor wheels and lower surface 356 of the silicon wafer 326. Downward force is applied to the silicon wafer 326 by fluid flow 340 can advantageously improve frictional interaction between the surfaces 322, 324 and the silicon wafer.

[0051] Fig. 4 illustrates still another conveyor system 400, again similar to systems 300 and 200 discussed above, but adapted to immersion processing of the work-in-process material. In system 400, a surrounding enclosure 452 is arranged to maintain a volume of a processing solution 454 with an upper surface 456 of the processing solution 454 significantly above, for example, an upper surface 444 of silicon wafer 426. Consequently, the entire work-in- process silicon wafer 426 is generally immersed within the processing solution 454 and, where desirable, experiences a physical or chemical effect on all of its surfaces. Again, a wide variety of such physical or chemical effects may be desirable including, for example, cleaning, etching, rinsing coating, etc.

[0052] In one exemplary embodiment of the invention, a solution depth 460 of approximately 1 cm is maintained between solution surface 456 and upper surface 444 of work-in-process silicon wafer 426. One of ordinary skill in the art will appreciate that, in certain aspects of the invention, any desirable solution depth 460 can be advantageously maintained so as to meet the process requirements of a particular material handling process. Also, in certain aspects of the invention, manifold 428 can be partially or fully submerged within processing solution 454 so that a desirable fluid velocity is maintained adjacent to upper surface 444 of work-in-process silicon wafer 426.

11 [0053] Thus, Fig. 5A shows a processing system 500 including a manifold device 502 partially submerged in a processing fluid 504 and disposed proximate to a work-in-process silicon wafer 506. In the illustrated arrangement, a surface 508 of the processing fluid 504 is generally coplanar with a longitudinal axis of the manifold device 502. Fig. 5B shows the processing system 510 including a manifold device 512 fully submerged in a processing fluid 514 and, again, disposed proximate to a work-in-process silicon wafer 516. In the illustrated arrangement, surface 518 of the processing fluid 514 is generally above an upper surface of the manifold device 512.

[0054] The practitioner of ordinary skill in the art will appreciate that the fluid level can be fixedly or adjustably maintained at any particular desirable level by, for example, the use of a fixed or adjustable overflow weir, and/or by the use of an automatic control device such as a mechanical control device, and pneumatic control device, an electromechanical control device or a fully electronic control device. In a further example, a fluid level sensor can be arranged to provide fluid level information to a control device which, in turn, is adapted to control a pump or reservoir valve. It should be noted that, with an appropriate automatic control device, a fluid level (e.g., 460) can be adjusted according to the requirements of a particular manufacturing process or work- in-process material.

[0055] Fig. 6 schematically shows a portion of a further embodiment 600 of the invention according to which a plurality of manifolds (exemplified here as two manifolds) 602, 604, are disposed above a conveyor device 606. In the illustrated embodiment, the conveyor device 606 includes a substantially porous belt portion 608. One of ordinary skill in the art will appreciate, however, that belt portion 608 is merely exemplary of any conveyor device appropriate to the requirements of a particular application.

[0056] The manifolds 602, 604 each support a respective plurality of nozzles operatively coupled to interior cavities of the manifolds. The nozzles

12 are arranged to provide a desirable spray pattern, e.g. 610, 612, 614. The spray pattern is chosen to apply a corresponding combination of forces to a workpiece 616 so as to maintain the workpiece 616 in close contact with an upper surface 618 of the belt portion 608. Desirably, according to certain aspects of the invention, the workpiece remains in substantially fixed spatial relation with respect to the surface 618 as the workpiece and belt traverse the processing equipment.

[0057] Fig. 7 shows, in schematic block diagram form, further aspects of the invention as exemplified in one processing system embodiment 700. As illustrated, the processing system 700 includes a tank or sump 702 adapted to serve as a reservoir for a working fluid 704. An outlet pipe 706 operatively couples the sump 702 to an inlet port of a pump device 708. The pump device 708 is adapted to transfer a portion of the working fluid 704 from the sump 702 to an outlet pipe 710 under pressure. In certain embodiments of the invention, a pressure sensor 712 is provided, here shown at the outlet pipe 710, for sensing and, in some embodiments, control of the working fluid pressure. The outlet pipe 710 is operatively coupled to a manifold device 714 disposed above a conveyor device 716. The manifold 714 includes at least one outlet, and typically a plurality of outlets 718, for releasing a stream of the working fluid 704 towards the conveyor device 716. In certain embodiments, the plurality of outlets includes at least one nozzle device adapted to configure an orientation and pressure of the corresponding stream of working fluid 704.

[0058] In the illustrated embodiment, the conveyor device 716 includes a plurality of rollers 718. The plurality of rollers are, in some embodiments, caused to rotate by the action of a prime mover 720 such as, for example, an electric motor pneumatic motor a hydraulic motor, or any other appropriate device. An operative coupling 722 is provided, in the illustrated embodiment, between the prime mover 720 and the rollers 718. In certain embodiments, this operative coupling 722 includes an independent transmission device between the prime mover 720 and each roller or roller axle. In other embodiments, a single transmission device mutually couples all of the rollers

13 718 to the prime mover device 720. In still other embodiments, an individual motor is provided for each axle and/or each roller.

[0059] As shown, a collection tray 719 can be provided below the rollers 718 for collection of the working fluid 704 and return of the collected fluid by way of return plumbing 721 to sump 702.

[0060] In certain embodiments of the invention, a controller device 726 is provided. In respective embodiments, this controller device can include a programmable microprocessor, a microcontroller, a dedicated logic device, or any other appropriate controlling device. In certain embodiments controlling software is encoded in a computer memory device, within or external to the controller device, for operation of the controller device 726.

[0061] According to various aspects of the invention, the controller device 726 is operatively coupled 728 at an output port to an input of prime mover 720. In a further aspect of the invention, the control device 726 is operatively coupled 730 to a level sensor 732. In addition, the controller device 726 is operatively coupled 734 to pressure sensor device 712 and to a position sensor 736 such as an optical sensor. In certain embodiments, the optical sensor 736 provides feedback information to processor 726 that allows adjustment of a process output such as an output pressure of pump 708. In certain embodiments, the optical sensor 736 includes an automated vision system.

[0062] One of skill in the art will appreciate that the selection and placement of manifolds, offices, nozzles, and other equipment can be arranged according to the requirements of a particular application. Thus a particular conveyor device can include one or more manifolds. The one or more manifolds can be disposed with a longitudinal axis thereof in substantially parallel spaced relation with respect to the Tangent Plane.

[0063] In other embodiments, a manifold can be closer to a tangent plane in one region of the conveyor and farther from the tangent plane in another

14 region of the conveyor. Any such displacement function of the manifold can proceed linearly or nonlinearly across a region of the conveyor device. In certain embodiments, a manifold is disposed transverse to a Target Path. In other embodiments, a manifold is disposed substantially parallel to a target path, and in still other embodiments of the invention a manifold is disposed obliquely with respect to a Target Path.

[0064] In still further embodiments, the workpiece is maintained below a surface of a working fluid, and in certain embodiments nozzle orifices or other outlets of a manifold are also below a working surface so as to provide subsurface streams of fluid that impinge on a work-in-process material, wholeworld

[0065] It should also be noted that the illustrated orientation of the work piece is merely exemplary. In certain embodiments, for example, a vertically oriented workpiece can be sustained with appropriate fluid pressures and otherwise properly configured mechanical apparatus. Of course any alternative orientation (to vertical and horizontal) can likewise be implemented.

[0066] Any of a wide variety of nozzles, working fluids, pumps and control devices can readily be applied by one of skill in the art with a minimum of experimentation the resulting device falling easily within the scope of the present disclosure. It should also be understood that, in certain embodiments, streams of flow can be arranged to apply desirable lateral forces to a work-in-process workpiece.

[0067] Fig's 8 and 9 show various further aspects of the invention as reduced to practice in one embodiment. Figure 8 shows a portion of a conveyor device 800 including a plurality of rollers 802. A manifold 804 is shown disposed longitudinally above the rollers 802. First 806 and second 808 guide rails define a Target Path 810 therebetween. Also shown is a further manifold device 812 adapted for supplying process chemicals to work- in-process material. It should be noted that, while in the illustrated

15 embodiment manifold 804 is shown having a longitudinal axis disposed substantially parallel to target path 810, alternative arrangements also fall within the scope of the invention. Thus, for example, in certain arrangement according to the invention, a manifold has a longitudinal axis disposed substantially orthogonal to a target path 810. In still other arrangement according to principles of the invention, a manifold has a longitudinal axis disposed at a generally oblique angle with respect to a target path.

[0068] Fig. 9 shows manifold 804 and guide rails 806 and 808 in additional detail. Also shown is a portion of a work-in-processed silicon wafer 809.

[0069] The inventor has conceived of a wide variety of configurations and arrangements of apparatus adapted to manifest the invention in its various aspects and principles. Thus, for example, Fig. 10 shows, in exploded and cutaway view, a system including a manifold device 930 having a substantially planar spray wall 932. The spray wall 932 includes a generally planar outer surface 934 disposed in generally above a travel path for a work-in-process device. A second generally planar inner surface 936 is disposed in substantially parallel spaced relation to the outer surface 934. According to the illustrated embodiment, spray wall 932 has four edges, forming a generally rectangular periphery, and coupled to respective sides 938, 940, 942, 944 of the manifold device 930 at lower edges thereof.

[0070] The sides 938, 940, 942, 944 are coupled, at respective upper edges thereof, to a lid member 946. The lid member 946 has an internal surface 948 which, together with the respective internal surfaces of the sides and in the generally planar inner surface 936 of the spray wall 932, defines an internal chamber 950 of the manifold device 930.

[0071] The illustrated device shows one exemplary arrangement in which a plurality of couplings or pipes 952, 954, 956 are provided at respective through holes in the lid member 946 and adapted to receive a working fluid therethrough. The working fluid is further adapted to be received within chamber 950 at a pressure higher than a local external ambient pressure.

16 [0072] According to principles of the invention, spray wall 932 includes a plurality of apertures e.g., 958 defining a respective plurality of through-holes between inner surface 936 and outer surface 934. The apertures 958 are arranged, according to various embodiments of the invention, in any random spatial distribution or periodic pattern adapted to affect the inventive concepts in the context of a particular technological application. Accordingly, the apertures 958 may be arranged in ranks and files, or columns, in a circular arrangement, in a spiral arrangement, in a chaotic a random distribution, in symmetrically or asymmetrically repeated geometric pattern defining, for example, any polygonal shape such as, for example, triangles, squares, rectangles, pentagons, hexagons, pentagons, octagons, nonagons, decagons, undecagons, dodecagons, etc., and combinations thereof.

[0073] The edges of the through-holes, in various embodiments of the invention, are arranged to define apertures of any configuration according to the requirements of a particular application of the invention. Accordingly, in corresponding embodiments, internal and external apertures of the through- holes are arranged as circles, ellipses, ovals, triangles, rectangles, pentagons, hexagons, pentagons, octagons, nonagons, decagons, undecagons, dodecagons, etc., and combinations thereof.

[0074] In operation, a working fluid is received through couplings or pipes 952, 954, 956 into chamber 950, and thereafter ejected outwardly through the plurality of apertures 958 so as to impinge on an upper surface 960 of a work- in-process device such as, for example, a silicon wafer. The working fluid may be received any appropriate working pressure varying from a purely gravitational pressure to a high working pressure induced, for example, by a pump device. Accordingly, in certain embodiments of the invention, the couplings or pipes 952, 954, 956 are respectively coupled to one or more pumps such as, for example, a centrifugal pump, an axial turbine pump and a positive displacement pump.

17 [0075] Fig. 11 illustrates, in perspective cutaway view, further aspect and attributes of a system according to principles of the invention. As in Fig. 10 the illustrated system includes a chamber manifold 980 having a generally rectangular aspect. One of skill in the art will appreciate, however, that any aspect appropriate to a particular technical application could equally well be used: e.g., a generally elliptical chamber, a generally circular chamber, a generally oval chamber, a generally polygonal chamber, and a chamber of randomly varying peripheral configuration.

[0076] The illustrated system of Fig. 11 includes a plurality of nozzles, e.g., 982 coupled to respective outlets of a plurality of through holes, e.g. 984. The nozzles are configured to produce particular spray patterns 986 (e.g., conical, flat fan, etc.), fluid velocities, and flow rates according to the requirements of a particular technical application. In certain applications, the nozzles include respectively externally threaded body portions adapted to be received at corresponding internal threads of the through-holes 984.

[0077] Fig.12 shows a portion of a system 1000 constructed according to principles of the invention. The system includes a chamber manifold 1002 having a spray wall 1004. According to the illustrated embodiment, spray wall 1004 includes a plurality of longitudinal apertures or slots, e.g. 1006, disposed therethrough. As illustrated, the longitudinal apertures lots 1006 have respective corresponding longitudinal axes disposed generally parallel to a travel path 1008 of a work-in-process device 1010. One of skill in the art will appreciate, however, that the longitudinal axes of the slots are equally well positioned orthogonal to, or at an oblique angle to, travel path 108 in respective embodiments of the invention.

[0078] In certain embodiments, the longitudinal slots 1006 span, respectively, substantially an entire length of an internal chamber 1012 of the chamber manifold 1002. In other embodiments, a plurality of longitudinal slots 1006, shorter than the length of the internal chamber 1002, are disposed generally co-linear or in various other orientations according to the requirements of a particular technical application.

18 [0079] Thus, in the chamber manifold 1020 illustrated in Fig. 13 a plurality of relatively short slots, e.g. 1022 are arranged to provide a corresponding downflow of working fluid onto an upper surface 1024 of a work-in-process device 1026. In one exemplary embodiment, as illustrated, the relatively short slots 1022 are arranged in an interleaved diagonal fashion. In other embodiments, the relatively short slots 1022 are arranged in, for example, a herringbone pattern, and random orientations.

[0080] Fig. 14 illustrates, in exploded view, a portion of a further system constructed according to principles of the invention. In particular, figure 14 shows a portion of a box manifold 1030. In certain aspects, the chamber manifold 1030 includes a lid member 1032 having a plurality of through-holes therethrough. The through-holes are coupled to respective coupling devices, e.g., 1034, and adapted to receive a flow of a working fluid. A chamber 1036 is disposed below the lid member 1032 and is adapted to receive there within the flow of working fluid from the coupling devices 1034. In the illustrated manifold, a plurality of baffle members 1038 are disposed within the chamber 1036. The baffle members are adapted to diverse the resulting flows of working fluid so as to provide a uniform supply of working fluid (or any desirably nonuniform supply of working fluid) to outlet apertures, e.g. 1040 present in a spray wall 1042 of the manifold 1030.

[0081] In the illustrated manifold 1030, the outlet apertures 1040 are disposed in a spatially nonuniform distribution. This nonuniform distribution is see more clearly in Fig. 15.

[0082] Fig. 15 shows, in exploded view, a further aspect of the chamber manifold 1030 of Fig. 14. As clearly visible in Fig. 15, the spray wall 1042 of chamber manifold 1030 includes a plurality of spray bars e.g., 1050. The spray bars 1050 include respective lower surfaces e.g., 1052 including a respective plurality of apertures 1054. The apertures 1054 define the outlets of respective through-holes allowing the egress of working fluid from the chamber 1036 of the chamber manifold 1030. In the illustrated manifold, the

19 spray bars 1050 are shown as being substantially integral to the chamber manifold 1030. In other embodiments of the invention, however, removable spray bars are contemplated.

[0083] It should be noted that the chamber manifold 1030 of Fig. 15 includes a plurality of processing devices 1056 disposed between the spray bars 1050. In certain embodiments of the invention, the processing devices are substantially integrally formed with the spray wall 1042 of the chamber manifold 1030. In other embodiments of the invention, the processing devices are removably coupled to the spray wall 1042 of the chamber manifold 130.

[0084] According to requirements of a particular technical application, the processing devices 1056 include, for example, one or more of an electromagnetic transducer and ultrasonic transducer, an ion emitter, an ionizing radiation emitter, a chemical distribution device, a chemical processing device, a physical processing device, a gas emitting device or any other device advantageously applied in the processing of a work-in-process material. An electromagnetic transducer device according to the invention may, for example, be adapted to emit electromagnetic radiation in the visible spectrum, in the ultraviolet spectrum, in the infrared spectrum, in the x-ray spectrum, or in any other portion of the electromagnetic spectrum desirable in a particular technical circumstance.

[0085] It should be noted that the chamber manifold 1030 includes spray bars 1050 interspersed with processing devices so as to maintain a desirable downward pressure on a work-in-process device while at the same time allowing processing of the work-in-process device with the processing devices 1056 and without undue shadowing of the work-in-process device by the spray bars 1050.

[0086] Of course, although not illustrated here, the spray bars may include any appropriate permanent or removable orifice or nozzle according to principles of the invention. In addition, adjustable and controllable orifices and nozzles are conceived to be within the scope of the invention.

20 [0087] Fig. 16 shows a further aspect of the chamber manifold 1030 in an exploded side elevation view. As shown, the manifold includes a plurality of spray bars 1050 disposed non-uniformly across the spray wall 1042, along with interstitial processing devices 1056.

[0088] Fig. 17 shows an exemplary manifold 1100 prepared according to principles of the invention. The manifold 1100 includes a plurality of apertures or orifices e.g., 1102, 1104, 1106. It should be noted that, in according to certain aspects of the invention, a size of the apertures is graduated. For example, apertures are larger at a greater distance from an input coupling 1108 so as to compensate for diminishing pressure (or head) present within an internal chamber 1110 of the exemplary manifold 1100 as one proceeds away from the input coupling 1108. This graduation of aperture size allows for maintaining a more uniform rate of flow across various apertures. It should be noted that alternative approaches, such as tapering or baffling an internal wall of chamber 1110 can also be employed in corresponding embodiments of the invention.

[0089] Fig. 18A shows a further example of a manifold 1120 having intrinsic apertures whereas Fig. 18B shows a further example of a manifold 1122 having discrete nozzles.

[0090] Fig. 19A shows an example of a manifold 1130, according to principles of the invention, having orifices disposed in an offset staggered pattern such that alternate orifices 1132, 1134 are oriented with respective longitudinal axes 1136, 1138 angularly displaced with respect to one another.

[0091] Fig. 19b shows an example of a manifold 1140, according to principles of the invention, having a diffuser bar 1142 disposed within a manifold chamber 1144. By occupying a portion of the manifold chamber 1144, the diffuser bar 1142 serves to advantageously control and moderate a flow of a working fluid through the manifold chamber 1144. In the illustrated

21 manifold 1140, the diffuser bar is implemented along with graduated orifices 1146, 1148, as shown.

[0092] According to certain aspects of the invention, flow rate through the orifices or nozzles are adjusted according to the requirement or suggestion of empirical testing or analytical models adapted to provide an optimal retentive force on the work-in-process device, taking into account, for example, Bernoulli effects.

[0093] By avoiding conveyer slip and other by version of work-i and you n- process materials, a system constructed according to principles of the present invention is adapted to provide improved uniformity of processing and of the output product. Accordingly, a product produced to have characteristics according to principles of the invention is considered to be within the scope of the invention.

[0094] It should be noted that in some embodiments, a system prepared according to principles of the invention is adapted to provide a preferential flow of working fluid over certain regions of a work-in-process device, where desirable. Accordingly, appropriate placement of nozzles and orifices, manifolds, etc. is advantageously employed. In addition, and as discussed above, baffles and other control features can be disposed within a manifold and/or externally thereto.

[0095] One of skill in the art will appreciate that a wide variety of materials are advantageously applied in the construction of the systems and manifolds described above including, for example, polymers include polyethylene, polypropylene, polybutylene, polystyrene, polyester, acrylic polymers, polyvinylchloride, polyamide, or polyetherimide like ULTEM. RTM.; a polymeric alloy such as Xenoy.RTM. resin, which is a composite of polycarbonate and polybutyleneterephthalate or Lexan.RTM. plastic, which is a copolymer of polycarbonate and isophthalate terephthalate resorcinol resin (all available from GE Plastics), liquid crystal polymers, such as an aromatic polyester or an aromatic polyester amide containing, as a constituent, at least one compound

22 selected from the group consisting of an aromatic hydroxycarboxylic acid (such as hydroxy benzoate (rigid monomer), hydroxynaphthoate (flexible monomer), an aromatic hydroxyamine and an aromatic diamine, (exemplified in U.S. Pat. Nos. 6,242,063, 6,274,242, 6,643,552 and 6,797,198, the contents of which are incorporated herein by reference), polyesterimide anhydrides with terminal anhydride group or lateral anhydrides (exemplified in U.S. Pat. No. 6,730,377, the content of which is incorporated herein by reference) or combinations thereof.

[0096] In addition, any polymeric composite such as engineering prepregs or composites, which are polymers filled with pigments, carbon particles, silica, glass fibers, conductive particles such as metal particles or conductive polymers, or mixtures thereof may also be used. For example, a blend of polycarbonate and ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene) may be used.

[0097] In like fashion, various metallic materials are appropriate for use in the construction of certain systems and devices including manifold according to principles of the present invention including Suitable metal or metallic alloys may include stainless steel; aluminum; an alloy such as Ni/Ti alloy; any amorphous metals including those available from Liquid Metal, Inc. or similar ones, such as those described in U.S. Pat. No. 6,682,611 , and U.S. Patent Application No. 2004/0121283, the entire contents of which are incorporated herein by reference.

[0098] While the exemplary embodiments described above have been chosen primarily from the field of wet silicon processing, the creative practitioner of skill in the art will appreciate that the principles of the invention are equally well applied, and that the benefits of the present invention are equally well realized in a wide variety of other material handling systems. Further, while the invention has been described in detail in connection with the presently preferred embodiments, it should be readily understood that the invention is not limited to such disclosed embodiments. Rather, the invention can be modified to incorporate any number of variations, alterations, substitutions, or equivalent arrangements not heretofore described, but which

23 are commensurate with the spirit and scope of the invention. Accordingly, the invention is not to be seen as limited by the foregoing description, but is only limited by the scope of the appended claims.

24

Claims

Claims
1. A method of controlling workpiece motion comprising: flowing a stream of working fluid from an orifice; allowing said stream to impinge on an upper surface of said workpiece; providing a mobile supporting surface below said workpiece; pressing a lower surface of said workpiece onto said supporting surface with said stream of working fluid so as to increase a frictional force component between said lower surface of said workpiece and said supporting surface.
2. A method of controlling workpiece motion as defined in claim 1 wherein said working fluid comprises a liquid.
3. A method of controlling workpiece motion as defined in claim 1 wherein said working fluid comprises a gas.
4. A method of controlling workpiece motion as defined in claim 1 wherein said working fluid comprises a particulate solid.
5. A method of controlling workpiece motion as defined in claim 1 wherein said flowing a stream of working fluid from an orifice comprises flowing said stream of working fluid directly downward from said orifice.
6. A method of controlling workpiece motion as defined in claim 1 wherein said allowing said stream to impinge on an upper surface of said workpiece comprises allowing said stream to impinge on said upper surface through a volume of a processing solution.
7. A method of controlling workpiece motion as defined in claim 6 wherein said processing solution comprises said working fluid.
8. A method of controlling workpiece motion as defined in claim 1 wherein the said orifice comprises a substantially circular orifice.
25
9. A method of controlling workpiece motion as defined in claim 1 wherein said orifice comprises a substantially rectangular orifice.
10. A processing device comprising: a conveyor device, said conveyor device having a supporting surface, said supporting surface being adapted to support a workpiece at a first workpiece surface thereof; and an orifice, said orifice being adapted to direct a stream of working fluid against a second surface of said workpiece, said stream of working fluid having kinetic energy sufficient to increase the force of said first workpiece surface against said supporting surface so as to advantageously modify an interaction between said first workpiece surface and said supporting surface.
11. A processing device as defined in claim 10 further comprising a nozzle, said orifice being disposed within said nozzle.
12. A processing device a defined in claim 10 further comprising a second orifice, said second orifice being adapted to direct a second stream of working fluid against said surface of said workpiece, said second orifice having an aperture larger than an aperture of said first orifice.
13. A processing device as defined in claim 10 wherein said stream of working fluid is adapted to flow through a further volume of working fluid before reaching said second surface of said workpiece.
14. Processing device as defined in claim 10 wherein said conveyor device comprises a plurality of rotating disks.
15. A processing device as defined in claim 10 wherein said conveyor device comprises a porous belt.
16. A processing device as defined in claim 10 wherein said conveyor device comprises a plurality of links rotatably coupled to one another.
26
17. A processing device as defined in claim 10 wherein said orifice is disposed within a manifold.
18. A processing device as defined in claim 17 wherein said manifold comprises a tubular manifold.
19. A processing device as defined in claim 17 wherein said manifold comprises a chamber manifold.
20. A processing device as defined in claim 17 wherein at least a portion of said manifold is submerged within a volume of said working fluid.
27
PCT/US2010/001385 2009-05-10 2010-05-10 Wafer handling device system and method WO2010132098A1 (en)

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US20070009344A1 (en) * 2004-07-09 2007-01-11 Paul Wirth Integrated tool assemblies with intermediate processing modules for processing of microfeature workpieces
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US3721472A (en) * 1969-01-03 1973-03-20 Western Electric Co Coanda effect switch for handling and conveying workpieces on a layer of fluid
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