Inventor’s corner


Module for particle removal from solid-state surfaces

This invention relates to the methods and apparatus used to remove foreign particles and contaminants from solid-state surfaces, such as semiconductor wafers and lithography masks, during the processing of semiconductor devices.

Removal of particles and contaminants from solid-state surfaces is of great concern in integrated circuit manufacture, particularly for semiconductor wafers, printed circuit boards, component packaging, and the like. As the trend to miniaturize electronic devices and components continues, and critical dimensions of circuit features become ever smaller, the presence of even a minute foreign particle on a substrate wafer during processing can cause a fatal defect in the circuit.

This invention entails determining the position coordinates of the particles on the surface based on prior localization of the particles. A beam of electromagnetic energy is directed via an optical cleaning arm at the coordinates of each of the particles such that absorption of the electromagnetic energy at the surface causes the particles to become dislodged from the surface without damaging the surface itself.

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The cleaning module (A) comprises a moving chuck (B), on which the substrate (C) is mounted, and a moving optical cleaning arm (D), positioned over the chuck. A single wavelength laser or a multi-wavelength laser module (E) generates a laser beam, which is conveyed via a radiation guide (F). The chuck holds the substrate, preferably by suction, and comprises a motorized system that rotates the chuck about a theta axis (G) or, alternatively, on X and Y axes.

The moving arm moves about a phi axis (H) that is parallel to but displaced from the theta axis. The arm comprises optics (I), through which electromagnetic radiation, preferably a laser beam (J), is conveyed and directed onto the substrate to clean the substrate surface.

Patent number: 6,949,147
Date: September 27, 2005
Inventors: Yoram Uziel; David Yogev; Ehud Poles; and Amir Wachs (Israel)

Delicate product packaging system

Many manufacturing industries require delicate parts to be packaged and then shipped to a customer. Delicate instruments such as thermocouples and various quartz components are typically double-bagged and placed in a cardboard box lined with soft foam. Unfortunately, the cardboard and foam are not cleanroom-compatible due to the significant quantity of particulates released into the air by these materials. Thus, products must be removed from the protective packaging and cleaned of any loose particles before the part can be taken into the cleanroom. The resulting unprotected transportation of the products can lead to damage or breakage. Furthermore, the packing materials are not reusable, because of the difficulty in cleaning them.

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Conversely, this packaging system protects delicate products from damage during shipping, can be taken into a cleanroom, and is substantially reusable. The system comprises a first set of interlaced fingers in the upper portion of a box, and a second set of interlaced fingers in the lower portion, providing soft support for the product between the fingers. Specifically, the box or container may be made from any appropriate material. It has a top wall (A), a front wall (B), a rear wall (C), and side walls. Similarly, the bottom comprises a bottom wall (D), a front wall (B), a rear wall (C), and side walls. The top and bottom may be attached to each other at their respective rear walls by a hinge (E). The container may also include one or more latches (F), located at any appropriate position on the box. A sheet of flexible fingers (G) generally comprises a longitudinal mounting strip (H), and a number of flexible fingers extending in a cantilevered manner.

Patent number: 6,976,586
Date: December 20, 2005
Inventor: Michael W. Halpin (Scottsdale, AZ)