Inventor's Corner


Space-saving FOUP transfer device

This robotic buffer apparatus (A) transfers FOUPs or wafer carrier boxes (B) one at a time to an adjacent fab processing station (C)—and back again—without the need for human intervention. Its small footprint is designed especially for fabs in which cleanroom space is at a premium. The invention can transfer a wafer carrier on the lowest storage position to the uppermost position, and vice-versa. As illustrated, the buffer apparatus has a load port (D) at the upper transfer position, while a FOUP opener/loader (E) has its own shelf (F) at the lower transfer position. Horizontally moving mechanisms (G) transfer the wafer carriers to/from the FOUP opener/loader, which in turn transfers wafers to/from the processing station.

Patent number: 6,726,429
Date granted: April 27, 2004
Inventors: James G. Sackett and David E. Weldon (Santa Clara, Calif.), and H. Alexander Anderson (Santa Cruz, Calif.); Assigned to Vertical Solutions, Inc. (San Jose, Calif.)

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Preparing clean gases

The apparatus is designed to provide a method for effectively cleaning a gas in contact with a semiconductor substrate, using dust control and adsorption means so that the concentration of fine particles in the gas is removed from air to be introduced into fab cleanrooms. The illustration shows the invention's method as it pertains to the cleaning of air to be supplied for creating an air knife in a semiconductor facility. Air (A) is treated in a Class 10,000 cleanroom (B) by means of a gas-preparing apparatus (C) comprising a dehumidifier (D), an adsorbent (E) for adsorbing gaseous deleterious components (in this example, chiefly non-methane hydrocarbons—HCs) that will increase the angle of contact, and a dust-removing filter (F). Clean air (G) emerging from the apparatus is free of dust and HCs, and is subsequently supplied to air-knife equipment (H) for cleaning wafers.

Outside air (I) before it enters the cleanroom is first treated with a prefilter (J) and an air conditioner (K). The air is then deprived of dust particles by means of HEPA filters (L) as it enters the cleanroom, thereby producing clean air (M) with a Class 10,000 concentration and containing extremely low concentrations of HCs.

Patent number: 6,733,570
Date granted: May 11, 2004
Inventors: Toshiaki Fujii, Tsukuru Suzuki, and Hidetomo Suzuki (Kanagawa, Japan), and Kazuhiko Sakamoto (Saitama-ken, Japan); Assigned to Ebara Research Co., Ltd. (Fujisawa, Japan)

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Wafer edge-grip aligner, buffer

An edge grip aligner (A) with buffering capabilities is designed to increase the throughput of wafer workpieces without the space taken up within the tool and fab cleanroom by typical dual-arm robots. It is built so as not to sit idle while the robot transfers workpieces, prevents scratches and particulates to the backside of a wafer, and supports wafers at their edge so as not to interfere with a pattern formed on that wafer.

The invention includes a chuck base (B), and chuck arms for receiving a wafer (C), rotating it to identify the notch locations and then positioning it so that the OCR mark can be read. The chuck arms then hand the wafer off to the buffer arms (E), supported by a buffer stand (D). Thus, it can deliver a new wafer to the chuck arms and carry the old workpiece away in a single operation rather than two separate operations. The chuck base is a cylindrical housing (F) that encloses and protects the components within the base.

Patent number: 6,729,462
Date granted: May 4, 2004
Inventors: Daniel A. Babbs, Jae Hong Kim, and William J. Fosnight (Austin, Tex.), and Matt W. Coady (Round Rock, Tex.); Assigned to Asyst Technologies (Fremont, Calif.)

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