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Publication numberUS20050035046 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 10/860,384
Publication dateFeb 17, 2005
Filing dateJun 3, 2004
Priority dateJun 6, 2003
Also published asUS7313462, US7371306, US20050034977, US20050061438, US20050109088, US20070295600
Publication number10860384, 860384, US 2005/0035046 A1, US 2005/035046 A1, US 20050035046 A1, US 20050035046A1, US 2005035046 A1, US 2005035046A1, US-A1-20050035046, US-A1-2005035046, US2005/0035046A1, US2005/035046A1, US20050035046 A1, US20050035046A1, US2005035046 A1, US2005035046A1
InventorsKyle Hanson, Kert Dolechek
Original AssigneeHanson Kyle M., Dolechek Kert L.
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Wet chemical processing chambers for processing microfeature workpieces
US 20050035046 A1
Abstract
A wet chemical processing chamber comprising a fixed unit, a detachable unit releasably coupled to the fixed unit, a seal contacting the fixed unit and the detachable unit, and a processing component disposed in the fixed unit and/or the detachable unit. The fixed unit can have a first flow system configured to direct a processing fluid through the fixed unit and a mounting fixture for fixedly attaching the fixed unit to a platform or deck of an integrated processing tool. The detachable unit can include a second flow system configured to direct the processing fluid to and/or from the first flow system of the fixed unit. The seal has an orifice through which processing fluid can flow between the first and second flow systems, and the processing component can impart a property to the processing fluid for processing a surface on a microfeature workpiece having submicron microfeatures.
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Claims(35)
1. A chamber for wet chemical processing of microfeature workpieces, comprising:
a fixed unit having a first flow system configured to direct a processing fluid through the fixed unit and a mounting fixture for fixedly attaching the fixed unit to a support member of a tool;
a detachable unit having a second flow system configured to direct the processing fluid to and/or from the first flow system of the fixed unit and a processing component that imparts a property to the processing fluid for processing a surface on a microfeature workpiece having submicron microfeatures; and
an attachment system releasably coupling the detachable unit to the fixed unit, wherein the attachment system has a first position in which the detachable unit is secured to the fixed unit and a second position in which the detachable unit can be detached from the fixed unit; and
a processing site configured to receive the microfeature workpiece, the processing site being disposed in one of the fixed unit or the detachable unit to contact the workpiece with a portion of the processing fluid having the property imparted by the processing component.
2. The chamber of claim 1, further comprising a head positioned over the fixed unit, wherein the head comprises a workpiece holder configured to hold the workpiece at the processing site.
3. The chamber of claim 1 wherein:
the processing component comprises an electrode in the detachable unit; and
the chamber further comprises a head having a workpiece holder including electrical contacts configured to hold a workpiece at the processing site and engage a conductive layer on the workpiece.
4. The chamber of claim 1 wherein:
the processing component comprises an electrode assembly having a plurality of independently operable electrodes separated from each other by dielectric dividers, and the electrode assembly being positioned in the detachable unit; and
the chamber further comprises a head having a workpiece holder including electrical contacts configured to hold a workpiece at the processing site and engage a conductive layer on the workpiece.
5. The chamber of claim 1 wherein the processing component comprises a filter in the detachable unit.
6. The chamber of claim 1 wherein the processing component comprises a membrane configured to conduct electrical current across the membrane.
7. The chamber of claim 1 wherein the attachment assembly comprises a clamp ring configured to move radially inwardly from a first position to a second position to clamp the detachable unit to the fixed unit.
8. The chamber of claim 1, further comprising a seal between a first seal surface of the fixed unit and a second seal surface of the detachable unit.
9. The chamber of claim 1 wherein:
the fixed unit further comprises a beveled guide surface inclined upwardly with increasing radius, a beveled bearing ring having a bearing surface inclined upwardly with decreasing radius, and a first seal surface;
a detachable unit further comprises a rim having a lower surface inclined upwardly with increasing radius, an upper surface inclined upwardly with increasing radius, and a second seal surface; and
a seal between the first and second seal surfaces.
10. The chamber of claim 1 wherein:
the processing component comprises an electrode in the detachable unit; and
the chamber further comprises (a) a head having a workpiece holder including electrical contacts configured to hold a workpiece at the processing site and engage a conductive layer on the workpiece, and (b) a seal between a portion of the fixed unit and the detachable unit.
11. The chamber of claim 1 wherein:
the processing component comprises an electrode in the detachable unit and a filter between the electrode and the processing site; and
the chamber further comprises (a) a head having a workpiece holder including electrical contacts configured to hold a workpiece at the processing site and engage a conductive layer on the workpiece, and (b) a seal between a portion of the fixed unit and the detachable unit.
12. The chamber of claim 1 wherein:
the processing component comprises an electrode in the detachable unit and a membrane between the electrode and the processing site, wherein the membrane is configured to conduct electrical current; and
the chamber further comprises (a) a head having a workpiece holder including electrical contacts configured to hold a workpiece at the processing site and engage a conductive layer on the workpiece, and (b) a seal between a portion of the fixed unit and the detachable unit.
13. A chamber for wet chemical processing of microfeature workpieces, comprising:
a fixed unit having a first flow system configured to direct a processing fluid through the fixed unit and a mounting fixture for fixedly attaching the fixed unit to a support surface of a tool;
a detachable unit releasably coupled to the fixed unit, the detachable unit having a second flow system configured to direct the processing fluid to and/or from the first flow system of the fixed unit;
a seal between the fixed unit and the detachable unit to prevent processing fluid from leaking between the fixed unit and the detachable unit, the seal having an orifice through which processing fluid can flow between the first and second flow systems; and
a processing component disposed in the fixed unit and/or the detachable unit, wherein the processing component imparts a property to the processing fluid for processing a surface on a microfeature workpiece having submicron microfeatures.
14. The chamber of claim 13, further comprising a head positioned over the fixed unit, wherein the head comprises a workpiece holder configured to hold the workpiece at the processing site.
15. The chamber of claim 13 wherein:
the processing component comprises an electrode in the detachable unit; and
the chamber further comprises a head having a workpiece holder including electrical contacts configured to hold a workpiece at the processing site and engage a conductive layer on the workpiece.
16. The chamber of claim 13 wherein:
the processing component comprises an electrode assembly having a plurality of independently operable electrodes separated from each other by dielectric dividers, and the electrode assembly being positioned in the detachable unit; and
the chamber further comprises a head having a workpiece holder including electrical contacts configured to hold a workpiece at the processing site and engage a conductive layer on the workpiece.
17. The chamber of claim 13 wherein the processing component comprises a filter in the detachable unit.
18. The chamber of claim 13 wherein the processing component comprises a membrane in the detachable unit, and the membrane being configured to conduct electrical current across the membrane.
19. The chamber of claim 13, further comprising an attachment assembly having a clamp ring configured to move radially inwardly from a first position to a second position to clamp the detachable unit to the fixed unit.
20. The chamber of claim 13 wherein:
the processing component comprises an electrode in the detachable unit and a filter between the electrode and the processing site; and
the chamber further comprises a head having a workpiece holder including electrical contacts configured to hold a workpiece at the processing site and engage a conductive layer on the workpiece.
21. The chamber of claim 13 wherein:
the processing component comprises an electrode in the detachable unit and a membrane between the electrode and the processing site, wherein the membrane is configured to conduct electrical current; and
the chamber further comprises a head having a workpiece holder including electrical contacts configured to hold a workpiece at the processing site and engage a conductive layer on the workpiece.
22. An integrated tool for wet chemical processing of microfeature workpieces, comprising:
a frame;
a mounting module carried by the frame, the mounting module having a plurality of positioning elements and attachment elements;
a wet chemical processing chamber carried by the mounting module, the wet chemical processing chamber comprising a fixed unit, a detachable unit, an attachment system and a processing site, wherein (a) the fixed unit has a first flow system configured to direct a processing fluid through the fixed unit and a mounting fixture having a first interface member engaged with one of the positioning elements and a first fastener engaged with one of the attachment elements, (b) the detachable unit has a second flow system configured to direct the processing fluid to and/or from the first flow system of the fixed unit and a processing component that imparts a property to the processing fluid for processing a surface on a microfeature workpiece having submicron microfeatures, (c) the attachment system releasably couples the detachable unit to the fixed unit, and (d) the processing site is configured to receive the microfeature workpiece, the processing site being disposed in one of the fixed unit or the detachable unit to contact the workpiece with a portion of the processing fluid having the property imparted by the processing component;
a transport system carried by the mounting module for transporting the workpiece within the tool, the transport system having a second interface member engaged with one of the positioning elements and a second fastener engaged with one of the attachment elements; and
wherein the mounting module is configured to maintain relative positions between positioning elements such that the transport system does not need to be recalibrated when the processing chamber is replaced with another processing chamber.
23. The tool of claim 22 wherein the mounting module further comprises a deck having a rigid first panel, a rigid second panel superimposed under the first panel, joists between the first and second panel, and bolts through the first panel, the joists and the second panel.
24. The tool of claim 22 wherein the mounting module further comprises a deck having a rigid first panel, a rigid second panel juxtaposed to the first panel, and bracing between the first and second panels.
25. The tool of claim 24, further comprising a head positioned over the fixed unit, wherein the head comprises a workpiece holder configured to hold the workpiece at the processing site.
26. The tool of claim 24 wherein:
the processing component comprises an electrode in the detachable unit; and
the chamber further comprises a head having a workpiece holder including electrical contacts configured to hold a workpiece at the processing site and engage a conductive layer on the workpiece.
27. The tool of claim 24, further comprising a seal between a first seal surface of the fixed unit and a second seal surface of the detachable unit.
28. The tool of claim 24 wherein:
the processing component comprises an electrode in the detachable unit; and
the chamber further comprises (a) a head having a workpiece holder including electrical contacts configured to hold a workpiece at the processing site and engage a conductive layer on the workpiece, and (b) a seal between a portion of the fixed unit and the detachable unit.
29. The tool of claim 24 wherein:
the processing component comprises an electrode in the detachable unit and a filter between the electrode and the processing site; and
the chamber further comprises (a) a head having a workpiece holder including electrical contacts configured to hold a workpiece at the processing site and engage a conductive layer on the workpiece, and (b) a seal between a portion of the fixed unit and the detachable unit.
30. The tool of claim 24 wherein:
the processing component comprises an electrode in the detachable unit and a membrane between the electrode and the processing site, wherein the membrane is configured to conduct electrical current; and
the chamber further comprises (a) a head having a workpiece holder including electrical contacts configured to hold a workpiece at the processing site and engage a conductive layer on the workpiece, and (b) a seal between a portion of the fixed unit and the detachable unit.
31. An integrated tool for wet chemical processing of microfeature workpieces, comprising:
a frame;
a mounting module carried by the frame, the mounting module having a plurality of positioning elements and attachment elements;
a wet chemical processing chamber carried by the mounting module, the wet chemical processing chamber comprising a fixed unit, a detachable unit releasably coupled to the fixed unit, a seal between the fixed unit and the detachable unit, and processing component disposed in the fixed unit and/or the detachable unit, wherein (a) the a fixed unit has a first flow system configured to direct a processing fluid through the fixed unit and a mounting fixture having a first interface member engaged with one of the positioning elements and a first fastener engaged with one of the attachment elements, (b) the detachable unit has a second flow system configured to direct the processing fluid to and/or from the first flow system of the fixed unit, (c) the seal has an orifice through which processing fluid can flow between the first and second flow systems, (d) the processing component imparts a property to the processing fluid for processing a surface on a microfeature workpiece having submicron microfeatures;
a transport system carried by the mounting module for transporting the workpiece within the tool, the transport system having a second interface member engaged with one of the positioning elements and a second fastener engaged with one of the attachment elements; and
wherein the mounting module is configured to maintain relative positions between positioning elements such that the transport system does not need to be recalibrated when the processing chamber is replaced with another processing chamber.
32. The tool of claim 31 wherein the mounting module further comprises a deck having a rigid first panel, a rigid second panel superimposed under the first panel, joists between the first and second panel, and bolts through the first panel, the joists and the second panel.
33. The tool of claim 31 wherein the mounting module further comprises a deck having a rigid first panel, a rigid second panel juxtaposed to the first panel, and bracing between the first and second panels.
34. The tool of claim 31 further comprising a head positioned over the fixed unit, wherein the head comprises a workpiece holder configured to hold the workpiece at the processing site.
35. The tool of claim 31 wherein:
the processing component comprises an electrode in the detachable unit; and
the chamber further comprises a head having a workpiece holder including electrical contacts configured to hold a workpiece at the processing site and engage a conductive layer on the workpiece.
Description
CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

The present application claims the benefit of U.S. Application No. 60/476,786 filed on Jun. 6, 2003; 60/476,333 filed on Jun. 6, 2003; 60/476,881 filed on Jun. 6, 2003; and 60/476,776 filed on Jun. 6, 2003, all of which are incorporated herein in their entirety, including appendices, by reference. Additionally, U.S. Application No. 60/501,566 filed on Sep. 9, 2003 is also incorporated herein in its entirety by reference.

TECHNICAL FIELD

The present invention is directed toward apparatus and methods for processing microfeature workpieces having a plurality of microdevices integrated in and/or on the workpiece. The microdevices can include submicron features. Particular aspects of the present invention are directed toward a wet chemical processing chamber having a fixed unit and a detachable unit that can be removed quickly for servicing components within the chamber.

BACKGROUND

Microdevices are manufactured by depositing and working several layers of materials on a single substrate to produce a large number of individual devices. For example, layers of photoresist, conductive materials, and dielectric materials are deposited, patterned, developed, etched, planarized, and otherwise manipulated to form features in and/or on a substrate. The features are arranged to form integrated circuits, micro-fluidic systems, and other structures.

Wet chemical processes are commonly used to form features on microfeature workpieces. Wet chemical processes are generally performed in wet chemical processing tools that have a plurality of individual processing chambers for cleaning, etching, electrochemically depositing materials, or performing combinations of these processes. FIG. 1 schematically illustrates an integrated tool 10 that can perform one or more wet chemical processes. The tool 10 includes a housing or cabinet 20 having a platform 22, a plurality of wet chemical processing chambers 30 in the cabinet 20, and a transport system 40. The tool 10 also includes lift-rotate units 32 coupled to corresponding processing chambers 30 for loading/unloading the workpieces W. The processing chambers 30 can be rinse/dry chambers, cleaning capsules, etching capsules, electrochemical deposition chambers, or other types of wet chemical processing vessels. The transport system 40 includes a linear track 42 and a robot 44 that moves along the track 42 to transport individual workpieces W within the tool 10. The integrated tool 10 further includes a workpiece storage unit 60 having a plurality of containers 62 for holding workpieces W. In operation, the robot 44 transports workpieces to/from the containers 62 and the processing chambers 30 according to a predetermined workflow within the tool 10.

One concern of integrated wet chemical processing tools is that the processing chambers must be maintained and/or repaired periodically. In electrochemical deposition chambers, for example, consumable electrodes degrade over time because the reaction between the electrodes and the electrolytic solution decomposes the electrodes. The shape of consumable electrodes accordingly changes causing variations in the electrical field. As a result, consumable electrodes must be replaced periodically to maintain the desired deposition parameters across the workpiece. The electrical contacts that contact the workpiece also may need to be cleaned or replaced periodically. To maintain or repair electrochemical deposition chambers, they can be removed from the tool 10 and replaced with an extra chamber, or they can be serviced in-situ within the tool.

One problem with repairing or maintaining existing wet chemical processing chambers is that the tool must be taken offline for an extended period of time to replace the electrodes or service other components in the processing chambers 30. When the processing chamber 30 is removed from the tool, a pre-maintained processing chamber 30 is mounted to the platform 22 at the vacant station. When the processing chamber 30 is serviced in-situ on the platform, the lift/rotate unit 32 is generally moved out of the way and the operator reaches into the processing chamber 30 from above to repair or replace the components within the chamber 30. For example, to replace consumable electrodes, the worn electrodes are disconnected from the chamber 30 and new electrodes are then installed. This can be an extremely cumbersome process because there is only a limited amount of space in the tool 10 to access the lower portion of the chambers 30 where the electrodes are positioned. After the chamber 30 has been repaired or replaced, the robot 44 and the lift-rotate unit 32 are recalibrated to operate with the processing chamber.

The processes for replacing worn electrodes, servicing other components in-situ within the tool, or replacing a chamber with another chamber require a significant amount of time during which the tool cannot process workpieces. Moreover, the robot 44 and the lift-rotate unit 32 are generally recalibrated to the repaired chamber after each repair; this is a time-consuming process that increases the downtime for repairing or maintaining processing chambers. As a result, when only one processing chamber 30 of the tool 10 does not meet specifications, it is often more efficient to continue operating the tool 10 without stopping to repair the one processing chamber 30 until more processing chambers do not meet the performance specifications. The loss of throughput of a single processing chamber 30, therefore, is not as severe as the loss of throughput caused by taking the tool 10 offline to repair or maintain a single one of the processing chambers 30.

The practice of operating the tool 10 until at least two processing chambers 30 do not meet specifications severely impacts the throughput of the tool 10. For example, if the tool 10 is not repaired or maintained until at least two or three processing chambers 30 are out of specification, then the tool operates at only a fraction of its full capacity for a period of time before it is taken offline for maintenance. This increases the operating costs of the tool 10 because the throughput not only suffers while the tool 10 is offline to replace the wet processing chambers 30 and recalibrate the robot 44, but the throughput is also reduced while the tool is online because it operates at only a fraction of its full capacity. Moreover, as the feature sizes decrease, the electrochemical deposition chambers 30 must consistently meet much higher performance specifications. This causes the processing chambers 30 to fall out of specifications sooner, which results in shutting down the tool more frequently. Therefore, the downtime associated with repairing and/or maintaining electrochemical deposition chambers and other types of wet chemical processing chambers is significantly increasing the cost of operating wet chemical processing tools.

SUMMARY

The present invention is directed toward wet chemical processing chambers with quick-release detachable units that reduce the downtime for repairing or maintaining processing components in the chambers compared to existing wet chemical processing chambers. In several embodiments of the inventive wet chemical processing chambers, processing components that require periodic maintenance or repair are housed or otherwise carried by the detachable units. For example, an electrode can be one type of processing component that is housed within a detachable unit. Such processing components can be quickly replaced by simply removing the detachable unit from the chamber and installing a replacement detachable unit. The detachable unit is generally accessible without having to move the lift-rotate units or detach the head assembly of the chambers. The detachable unit can also be coupled to the chamber by a quick-release mechanism that is easily accessible. As such, the downtime for repairing or maintaining electrodes or other processing components in chambers is reduced by locating such components in detachable units that can be removed and replaced in only a few minutes compared to several hours for performing the same work on existing wet chemical processing chambers.

In one embodiment, a wet chemical processing chamber in accordance with the invention comprises a fixed unit, a detachable unit releasably coupled to the fixed unit, a seal contacting the fixed unit and the detachable unit, and a processing component disposed in the fixed unit and/or the detachable unit. The fixed unit can have a first flow system configured to direct a processing fluid through the fixed unit and a mounting fixture for fixedly attaching the fixed unit to a platform or deck of an integrated processing tool. The detachable unit can include a second flow system configured to direct the processing fluid to and/or from the first flow system of the fixed unit. The seal has an orifice through which processing fluid can flow between the first and second flow systems, and the processing component can impart a property to the processing fluid for processing a surface on a microfeature workpiece having submicron microfeatures.

Another aspect of the invention is an integrated tool for wet chemical processing of microfeature workpieces. In one embodiment, the tool can include a frame and a mounting module carried by the frame. The mounting module can include a plurality of positioning elements and attachment elements. In this embodiment, the wet chemical processing chamber can have a fixed unit including a mounting fixture with a first interface member engaged with one of the positioning elements of the mounting module and a first fastener engaged with one of the attachment elements of the mounting module. The mounting module is configured to maintain relative positions between positioning elements such that a transport system for transporting workpieces to/from the wet chemical processing chamber does not need to be recalibrated when the processing chamber is replaced with another processing chamber or when one detachable unit is replaced with another detachable unit.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a schematic top plan view of a wet chemical processing tool in accordance with the prior art.

FIG. 2 is a schematic view illustrating a wet chemical processing chamber in accordance with one embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 3 is a schematic view illustrating the operation of a wet chemical processing chamber in accordance with an embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 4A is cross-sectional view schematically illustrating a wet chemical processing chamber in a detached configuration in accordance with an embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 4B is a cross-sectional view schematically illustrating a wet chemical processing chamber in an assembled configuration in accordance with an embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 5A is a top isometric view of a carriage for loading/unloading a detachable unit from a wet chemical processing chamber in accordance with an embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 5B is a bottom isometric view of a carriage for loading/unloading a detachable unit of a wet chemical processing chamber in accordance with an embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 6 is a top plan view of a wet chemical processing tool including a wet chemical processing chamber in accordance with another aspect of the invention.

FIG. 7 is an isometric view of a mounting module for holding a wet chemical processing chamber in a wet chemical processing tool in accordance with an embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 8 is a cross-sectional view taken along line 8-8 of FIG. 7 of a mounting module for carrying a wet chemical processing chamber in accordance with an embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 9 is a cross-sectional view showing a portion of a deck of a mounting module in greater detail.

FIG. 10 is a cross-sectional isometric view schematically illustrating a wet chemical processing chamber carried by a mounting module of a wet chemical processing tool in accordance with an embodiment of the invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

As used herein, the terms “microfeature workpiece” or “workpiece” refer to substrates on or in which microdevices are formed integrally. Typical microdevices include microelectronic circuits or components, thin-film recording heads, data storage elements, microfluidic devices, and other products. Micromachines or micromechanical devices are included within this definition because they are manufactured using much of the same technology as used in the fabrication of integrated circuits. The substrates can be semiconductive pieces (e.g., doped silicon wafers or gallium arsenide wafers), nonconductive pieces (e.g., various ceramic substrates) or conductive pieces.

Several embodiments of wet chemical processing chambers for processing microfeature workpieces are described in the context of electrochemical deposition chambers for electrolytically or electrolessly depositing metals or electrophoretic resist in or on structures of a workpiece. The wet chemical processing chambers in accordance with the invention, however, can also be used for etching, rinsing, or other types of wet chemical processes in the fabrication of microfeatures in and/or on semiconductor substrates or other types of workpieces. Several embodiments of wet chemical processing chambers and integrated tools in accordance with the invention are set forth in FIGS. 2-10 and the corresponding text to provide a thorough understanding of particular embodiments of the invention. A person skilled in the art, however, will understand that the invention may have additional embodiments or that the invention may be practiced without several of the details of the embodiments shown in FIGS. 2-10.

A. Embodiments of Wet Chemical Processing Chambers

FIG. 2 schematically illustrates a wet chemical processing chamber 100 that enables quick repair or replacement of components to reduce the downtime for maintaining processing chambers. The processing chamber 100 includes a wet chemical vessel 102 and a head 104. The vessel 102 is carried by a deck 106 of a tool that can include several other processing chambers (not shown) and a workpiece transport system (not shown) for automatically handling workpieces. The vessel 102 contains the processing fluid and several components for directing the processing fluid or otherwise imparting properties to the processing fluid for processing a workpiece. The head 104 is carried by a lift-rotate unit 108 that moves the head 104 to load/unload the workpiece and to position the workpiece at a processing site 109 within the vessel 102. When the processing chamber 100 is an electrochemical deposition station for electroplating materials onto a workpiece, the vessel 102 typically has a fluid flow system and at least one electrode, and the head 104 typically includes a workpiece holder having a contact assembly with a plurality of electrical contacts configured to engage a conductive layer on the workpiece. When the processing chamber 100 is a cleaning chamber or other type of capsule, the vessel 102 includes a plurality of fluid dispensers for flowing a fluid across the workpiece and the head 104 typically includes a workpiece holder. Suitable configurations of fluid flow systems, electrodes, and other processing components in the vessel 102 are disclosed in U.S. application Ser. Nos. 09/804,696; 09/804,697; 10/234,637; 10/234,982; 10/234,628; 10/234,442; 09/849,505; 09/866,391; 09/866,463; 09/875,365; 09/872,151; and 10/295,302, all of which are herein incorporated by reference. Additionally, suitable workpiece holders are disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 6,309,524 and U.S. application Ser. Nos. 09/717,927; and 09/823,948, all of which are also herein incorporated by reference.

The vessel 102 includes a fixed unit 110 mounted to the deck 106 and a detachable unit 120 carried by the fixed unit 110. The fixed unit 110 can include a chassis 112, a first flow system 114, and a mounting fixture 116. The chassis 112 can be a dielectric housing that is chemically compatible with the processing fluid. The chassis 112, for example, can be a high density polymer or other suitable material. The first flow system 114 can be configured to provide the desired flow to the processing site 109. In electrochemical deposition chambers, the first flow system 114 can be configured to provide a flow that has a substantially uniform velocity in a direction normal to the workpiece throughout the processing site 109. The mounting fixture 116 can be flanges or a ring projecting outwardly from the chassis 112 to engage the top surface of the deck 106. The mounting fixture 116 can be configured to precisely locate the fixed unit 110 relative to the deck 106 as explained in more detail below. The fixed unit 110 can further include a processing component 118 to impart a property to the processing fluid flowing through the fixed unit 110. For example, the processing component 118 can be an electric field shaping element that shapes the electric field in the processing site 109, a filter, a membrane, a nozzle, or another type of fluid dispenser. The processing component 118 can also be any combination of these types of structures. Suitable structures for first flow systems 114, mounting fixtures 116 and processing components 118 for the fixed unit 110 are disclosed in U.S. application Ser. Nos. 09/872,151 and 09/804,697 incorporated by reference above.

The detachable unit 120 of the vessel 102 includes a container 122, a second flow system 124 configured to direct the processing fluid to and/or from the first flow system 114 of the fixed unit 110, and a processing component 126 that imparts a property to the processing fluid. The second flow system 124 can include inlets and outlets to deliver processing fluid to the first flow system 114 and to receive processing from the first flow system 114. The first and second flow systems operate together to provide a desired flow of processing fluid at the processing site. The first and second flow systems 114 and 124 can also be configured to provide a forward flow relative to the processing component 126. In a forward flow system, the processing fluid passes the processing component 126 in the detachable unit 120 before the processing fluid reaches the processing site 109. The first and second flow systems can also be configured to provide a reverse flow past the processing component 126. In a reverse flow configuration, the processing fluid passes the processing component 126 after the processing fluid has passed through the processing site 109.

The processing component 126 is disposed in the detachable unit 120. The processing component 126 can be a filter, membrane, or electrode. In addition, the processing component 126 can be an electrode assembly having a plurality of electrodes arranged in a concentric configuration or another configuration suitable for electroplating materials onto the workpiece. In still other embodiments, the processing component 126 can be a combination of filters, membranes, electrodes, dielectric partitions between electrodes that define individual electrode compartments, spray bars with a plurality of nozzles, paddle platers, or other components used to process microfeature workpieces. The processing component 126 is generally a consumable component (e.g., a consumable electrode), a component that collects particulate matter or other undesirable constituents in the processing fluid to protect the surface of the workpiece (e.g., filters of membranes), or other components that may fail or need to be cleaned. The processing component 126 in the detachable unit 120 is accordingly subject to regular maintenance or replacement to maintain the performance of the processing chamber 100 within predetermined specifications. Such processing components can accordingly be quickly replaced with new or refurbished components by simply replacing one detachable unit 120 with a replacement detachable unit without having to move the head 104 or the fixed unit 110.

The vessel 102 also includes a seal 130 to prevent leaking between the fixed unit 110 and the detachable unit 120. The seal is typically positioned between the fixed unit 110 and the detachable unit 120. The seal 130 can include at least one orifice to allow the processing fluid to flow between the first flow system 114 in the fixed unit 110 and the second flow system 124 in the detachable unit 120. In many embodiments, the seal 130 is a gasket with a pattern of orifices to allow fluid to flow between the first and second flow systems 114 and 124. The seal 130 orgasket is typically a compressible member that prevents liquid from leaking between the various flow channels of the flow systems. The seal 130 can also be made from a dielectric material that electrically isolates different fluid flows as they flow between the first and second flow systems 114 and 124. Suitable materials for the seal 130 include VITON® closed cell foams, closed cell silicon, elastomers, polymers, rubber and other materials.

The vessel 102 also includes an attachment assembly 140 for attaching the detachable unit 120 to the fixed unit 110. The attachment assembly 140 can be a quick-release unit, such as a clamp or a plurality of clamps, that guides the detachable unit 120 to a desired orientation with respect to the fixed unit 110 and securely holds the detachable unit 120 to the fixed unit 110. The attachment assembly 140 can be configured to move from a first position in which the detachable unit 120 is secured to the fixed unit 110 and a second position in which the detachable unit 120 can be removed from the fixed unit 110. In several embodiments, as the attachment assembly 140 moves from the second position to the first position, the attachment assembly 140 drives the detachable unit 120 toward the fixed unit 110. This motion compresses the seal 130 and positions the detachable unit 120 at a desired location with respect to the fixed unit 110. The attachment assembly 140 can be a clamp ring, a plurality of latches, a plurality of bolts, or other types of fasteners.

FIG. 3 schematically illustrates the operation of the wet chemical processing chamber 100 for repairing or maintaining processing components in the detachable unit. Like reference numbers refer to like components in FIGS. 2 and 3. A first detachable unit 120 a is removed from the fixed unit 110 after the flow system 124 a and/or the processing component 126 a in the first detachable unit 120 a no longer meet specifications. The seal 130 may also be removed, but this is optional. A second detachable unit 120 b is then installed by aligning it with the fixed unit 110 and engaging the attachment assembly 140 with the second detachable unit 120 b. The second detachable unit 120 b can include a flow system 124 b and processing components 126 b that are new or have been refurbished so that the processing chamber 100 can meet the specifications required for processing microfeature workpieces.

One advantage of the processing chamber 100 illustrated in FIGS. 2 and 3 is that components in need of repair or maintenance can be quickly replaced with new or refurbished components without shutting down the processing chamber 100 for a significant period of time. One detachable unit 120 can be quickly removed from the fixed unit 110, and then a replacement detachable unit 120 can be installed in only a matter of a few minutes. This significantly reduces the downtime for repairing electrodes or other processing components compared to conventional systems that require the components to be repaired in-situ on the tool or require the entire chamber to be removed from the tool. Another advantage of the processing chamber 100 is that the processing components 126 in the detachable units 120 can be replaced from a location that is easily accessible under the deck 106. As a result, there is no need to move either the fixed unit 110, the head 104, or the lift-rotate unit 108 to replace worn processing components. This further reduces the downtime for maintaining processing components because the head 104 and lift-rotate unit 108 do not need to be repositioned with respect to the fixed unit 110. Moreover, a workpiece transport system that delivers the workpieces to the head 104 and retrieves the workpieces from the head 104 does not need to be recalibrated to the processing chamber 100 because the position between the head 104 and such a workpiece transport system is not changed. The significant reduction in downtime for replacing processing components provided by the processing chamber 100 is expected to significantly increase the productivity of the wet chemical processing tool compared to existing tools.

FIG. 4A is a cross-sectional view illustrating a vessel 402 in accordance with an embodiment of the invention. The vessel 402 can include a fixed unit 410, a detachable unit 420, a seal 430, and an attachment assembly 440. The fixed unit 410 can include a chassis 412, a first flow system 414 (shown schematically), and processing components 418 (shown schematically). The detachable unit 420 can include a container 422, a second flow system 424 (shown schematically), and processing components 426 (shown schematically). The seal 430 can be a gasket having an opening 431 to allow fluid to flow between the first and second flow systems 414 and 424. The attachment assembly 440 can be a clamp ring.

The fixed unit 410 can further include a plurality of hangers 450 arranged at a common radius with respect to a center line of the fixed unit 410 or in another pattern. The hangers 450 can include shoulders 452 to hold the attachment assembly. For example, the attachment assembly 440 can be a ring that springs radially outwardly to contact the hangers 450 and rest on the shoulders 452 in an open position. The fixed unit 410 further includes a beveled guide surface 453, a bearing ring 454 above the beveled guide surface 453, and a seal surface 456. The guide surface 453 can be an annular surface or a series of arcuate segments inclined upwardly with increasing radius. The bearing ring 454 can be a metal ring having a bearing surface inclined upwardly with decreasing radius. The bearing ring 454 can also be made from other materials that are typically harder than the material of the chassis 412.

The detachable unit 420 can include a rim 460 having a lower surface 462 and an upper surface 464. The lower surface 462 and the upper surface 464 can be inclined upwardly with increasing radius. The upper surface 464, more specifically, can be inclined at an angle to mate with the guide surface 453 of the fixed unit 410. The detachable unit 420 can further include a seal surface 466 configured to retain the seal 430, slide channels 467 a and 467 b, and a bottom surface 468.

The attachment assembly 440 can include a first rim 472 configured to engage the lower surface 462 of the detachable unit 420 and a second rim 474 configured to engage the bearing surface of the bearing ring 454. The attachment assembly 440 can include a latch (not shown) or lever that moves the ring radially inwardly and locks the ring into a fixed position.

FIG. 4B illustrates the vessel 402 after the detachable unit 420 has been attached to the fixed unit 410. In operation, the attachment assembly 440 moves radially inwardly so that the first rim 472 engages the lower surface 462 of the detachable unit 420 and the second rim 474 engages the bearing surface of the bearing ring 454. The radially inward motion of the first rim 472 along the lower surface 462 lifts the detachable unit 420 upwardly toward the fixed unit 410. As the detachable unit 420 moves upwardly, the upper surface 464 engages the guide surface 453 to position the detachable unit 420 at a desired position with respect to the fixed unit 410. The second rim 474 of the attachment assembly 440 moves radially inwardly along the inclined surface of the bearing ring 454 to clamp the seal 130 between the seal surfaces 456 and 466. A lever (not shown) on the attachment assembly 440 can be moved from an open position to a closed position to induce a hoop stress in the attachment assembly 440 for securely holding the detachable unit 420 to the fixed unit 410.

The chamber can also include an assembly for loading/unloading the detachable unit 120. FIG. 5A is a top isometric view of a carriage 500 for installing and removing a detachable unit in a wet chemical processing chamber in accordance with one embodiment of the invention. The carriage 500 can include a bracket 510 that mounts to the underside of the deck 106 (FIG. 2) of the tool. The carriage 500 can further include guide rails 512 and an end stop 514. The guide rails 512 receive the slide channels 467 a and 467 b (FIGS. 4A and 4B), and the end stop 514 engages a mating rounded portion of the detachable unit 420. In operation, an operator slides the detachable unit 420 along the rails 512 until the detachable unit engages the end stop 514.

FIG. 5B is a bottom isometric view illustrating additional aspects of the carriage 500. The carriage 500 can further include an actuator 520 having a handle 522, a shaft 524, and lifters 526 that are moved by the shaft 524. The actuator 520 can further include a rod 528 connected to the lifters 526 and positioned in a joint 529. The rotation of the handle accordingly rotates the rod 528 within the joint 529 to raise and lower the lifters 526.

To install a detachable unit, the actuator 520 is moved to a first position as shown in FIG. 5B. The detachable unit is then inserted along the rails 512 as described above, and the actuator 520 is lifted. As the actuator 520 rotates upwardly (arrow R), the handle 522 passes through a gap 530 in a bottom flange 531 of the bracket 510. The lifters 526 accordingly engage the bottom surface 468 (FIG. 4B) and raise the detachable unit upwardly toward the fixed unit. After reaching the raised position, the handle 522 slides axially along the shaft 524 (arrow A) to position the handle on top of the flange 531. Referring back to FIG. 4B, the bevelled surfaces on the bottom of the supports 450 initially align the detachable unit 420 with the fixed unit 410. After the rim 460 of the detachable unit 420 passes the shoulders 452 of the supports 450, the upper surface 464 of the detachable unit 420 and the guide surface 453 of the fixed unit 410 position the detachable unit 420 into final alignment with the fixed unit 410. The attachment assembly 440 can then be actuated to clamp the detachable unit 420 to the fixed unit 410. The carriage 500 accordingly makes it easier to remove and install the detachable unit 420.

B. Embodiments of Integrated Tools with Wet Chemical Processing Chambers

FIG. 6 is a top plan view showing a portion of an integrated tool 600 in accordance with an embodiment of the invention. In this embodiment, the integrated tool 600 includes a frame 610, a dimensionally stable mounting module 620 mounted to the frame 610, a plurality of wet chemical processing chambers 670, and a plurality of lift-rotate units 680. The tool 600 can also include a transport system 690. The mounting module 620 carries the processing chambers 670, the lift-rotate units 680, and the transport system 690. The wet chemical processing chambers 670 in the tool 600 can include vessels having fixed units and detachable units as described above with reference to FIGS. 2-5. As such, any of the embodiments of the wet chemical processing chambers 100 and 400 can be the wet chemical processing chambers 670 in the integrated tool 600.

The frame 610 of the tool 600 has a plurality of posts 611 and cross-bars 612 that are welded together in a manner known in the art. The mounting module 620 is at least partially housed within the frame 610. In one embodiment, the mounting module 620 is carried by cross-bars 612 of the frame 610, but the mounting module 620 can stand directly on the floor of the facility or other structures in other embodiments.

The mounting module 620 is a rigid, stable structure that maintains the relative positions between the wet chemical processing chambers 670, the lift-rotate units 680, and the transport system 690. One aspect of the mounting module 620 is that it is much more rigid and has a significantly greater structural integrity compared to the frame 610 so that the relative positions between the wet chemical processing chambers 670, the lift-rotate units 680, and the transport system 690 do not change over time. Another aspect of the mounting module 620 is that it includes a dimensionally stable deck 630 with positioning elements at precise locations for positioning the processing chambers 670 and the lift-rotate units 680 at known locations on the deck 630. In one embodiment (not shown), the transport system 690 can be mounted directly to the deck 630. In other embodiments, the mounting module 620 also has a dimensionally stable platform 650 and the transport system 690 is mounted to the platform 650. The deck 630 and the platform 650 are fixedly positioned relative to each other so that positioning elements on the deck 630 and positioning elements on the platform 650 do not move relative to each other. The mounting module 620 accordingly provides a system in which wet chemical processing chambers 670 and lift-rotate units 680 can be removed and replaced with interchangeable components in a manner that accurately positions the replacement components at precise locations on the deck 630.

The tool 600 is particularly suitable for applications that have demanding specifications which require frequent maintenance of the wet chemical processing chambers 670, the lift-rotate units 680, or the transport system 690. A wet chemical processing chamber 670 can be repaired or maintained by simply detaching the chamber from the processing deck 630 and replacing the chamber 670 with an interchangeable chamber having mounting hardware configured to interface with the positioning elements on the deck 630. Because the mounting module 620 is dimensionally stable and the mounting hardware of the replacement processing chamber 670 interfaces with the deck 630, the chambers 670 can be interchanged on the deck 630 without having to recalibrate the transport system 690. This is expected to significantly reduce the downtime associated with repairing or maintaining processing chambers 670 so that the tool can maintain a high throughput in applications that have stringent performance specifications. This aspect of the tool 600 is particularly useful when the fixed unit 110 (FIG. 2) must be removed to repair the chamber.

The transport system 690 retrieves workpieces from a load/unload module 698 attached to the mounting module 620. The transport system 690 includes a track 692, a robot 694, and at least one end-effector 696. The track 692 is mounted to the platform 650. More specifically, the track 692 interfaces with positioning elements on the platform 650 to accurately position the track 692 relative to the chambers 670 and the lift-rotate units 680 attached to the deck 630. The robot 694 and end-effectors 696 can accordingly move in a fixed, dimensionally stable reference frame established by the mounting module 620. The tool 600 can further include a plurality of panels 699 attached to the frame 610 to enclose the mounting module 620, the wet chemical processing chambers 670, the lift-rotate units 680, and the transport system 690 in a cabinet. In other embodiments, the panels 699 on one or both sides of the tool 600 can be removed in the region above the processing deck 630 to provide an open tool.

C. Embodiments of Dimensionally Stable Mounting Modules

FIG. 7 is an isometric view of a mounting module 620 in accordance with an embodiment of the invention for use in the tool 600. In this embodiment, the deck 630 includes a rigid first panel 631 and a rigid second panel 632 superimposed underneath the first panel 631. The first panel 631 can be an outer member and the second panel 632 can be an interior member juxtaposed to the outer member. The first and second panels 631 and 632 can also have different configurations than the configuration in FIG. 7. A plurality of chamber receptacles 633 are disposed in the first and second panels 631 and 632 to receive the wet chemical processing chambers 670 (FIG. 6).

The deck 630 can further include a plurality of positioning elements 634 and attachment elements 635 arranged in a precise pattern across the first panel 631. The positioning elements 634 can be holes machined in the first panel 631 at precise locations and with precise dimensions to receive dowels or pins that interface with the wet chemical processing chambers 670 (FIG. 6). In other embodiments, the positioning elements 634 can be pins, such as cylindrical pins or conical pins, that project upwardly from the first panel 631 to be received by mating structures in the wet chemical processing chambers 670. The deck 630 has a first set of positioning elements 634 located at each chamber receptacle 633 to accurately position the individual wet chemical processing chambers at precise locations on the mounting module 620. The deck 630 can also include a second set of positioning elements 634 near each receptacle 633 to accurately position individual lift-rotate units 680 at precise locations on the mounting module 620. The attachment elements 635 can be threaded holes in the first panel 631 that receive bolts to secure the chambers 670 and the lift-rotate units 680 to the deck 630.

The mounting module 620 also includes exterior side plates 660 along longitudinal outer edges of the deck 630, interior side plates 661 along longitudinal inner edges of the deck 630, and endplates 662 and 664 attached to the ends of the deck 630. The transport platform 650 is attached to the interior side plates 661 and the end plates 662 and 664. The transport platform 650 includes positioning elements 652 for accurately positioning the track 692 (FIG. 6) of the transport system 690 on the mounting module 620. The transport platform 650 can further include attachment elements, such as tapped holes, that receive bolts to secure the track 692 to the platform 650.

FIG. 8 is a cross-sectional view illustrating one suitable embodiment of the internal structure of the deck 630, and FIG. 9 is a detailed view of a portion of the deck shown in FIG. 8. In this embodiment, the deck 630 includes bracing 640, such as joists, extending laterally between the exterior side plates 660 and the interior side plates 661. The first panel 631 is attached to the upper side of the bracing 640, and the second panel 632 is attached to the lower side of the bracing 640. The deck 630 can further include a plurality of throughbolts 642 and nuts 644 that secure the first and second panels 631 and 632 to the bracing 640. As best shown in FIG. 9, the bracing 640 has a plurality of holes 645 through which the throughbolts 642 extend. The nuts 644 can be welded to the bolts 642 to enhance the connection between these components.

The panels and bracing of the deck 630 can be made from stainless steel, other metal alloys, solid cast materials, or fiber-reinforced composites. For example, the panels and plates can be made from Nitronic 50 stainless steel, Hastelloy 625 steel alloys, or a solid cast epoxy filled with mica. The fiber-reinforced composites can include a carbon-fiber or Kevlar® mesh in a hardened resin. The material for the panels 631 and 632 should be highly rigid and compatible with the chemicals used in the wet chemical processes. Stainless steel is well-suited for many applications because it is strong but not affected by many of the electrolytic solutions or cleaning solutions used in wet chemical processes. In one embodiment, the panels and plates 631, 632, 660, 661, 662 and 664 are 0.125 to 0.375 inch thick stainless steel, and more specifically they can be 0.250 inch thick stainless steel. The panels and plates, however, can have different thickness in other embodiments.

The bracing 640 can also be stainless steel, fiber-reinforced composite materials, other metal alloys, and/or solid cast materials. In one embodiment, the bracing can be 0.5 to 2.0 inch wide stainless steel joists, and more specifically 1.0 inch wide by 2.0 inches tall stainless steel joists. In other embodiments the bracing 640 can be a honey-comb core, a light-weight foamed metal or other type of foam, polymers, fiber glass or other materials.

The mounting module 620 is constructed by assembling the sections of the deck 630, and then welding or otherwise adhering the end plates 662 and 664 to the sections of the deck 630. The components of the deck 630 are generally secured together by the throughbolts 642 without welds. The outer side plates 660 and the interior side plates 661 are attached to the deck 630 and the end plates 662 and 664 using welds and/or fasteners. The platform 650 is then securely attached to the end plates 662 and 664, and the interior side plates 661.

The mounting module 620 provides a heavy-duty, dimensionally stable structure that maintains the relative positions between the positioning elements 634 on the deck 630 and the positioning elements 652 on the platform 650 within a range that does not require the transport system 690 to be recalibrated each time a replacement processing chamber 670 or lift-rotate unit 680 is mounted to the deck 630. The mounting module 620 is generally a rigid structure that is sufficiently strong to maintain the relative positions between the positioning elements 634 and 652 when the wet chemical processing chambers 670, the lift-rotate units 680, and the transport system 690 are mounted to the mounting module 620. In several embodiments, the mounting module 620 is configured to maintain the relative positions between the positioning elements 634 and 652 to within 0.025 inch. In other embodiments, the mounting module is configured to maintain the relative positions between the positioning elements 634 and 652 to within approximately 0.005 to 0.015 inch. As such, the deck 630 often maintains a uniformly flat surface to within approximately 0.025 inch, and in more specific embodiments to approximately 0.005-0.015 inch.

D. Embodiments of Wet Chemical Processing Chambers

FIG. 10 is an isometric cross-sectional view showing the interface between a wet chemical processing chamber 670 and the deck 630. The chamber 670 can include the processing vessel 102 or 402 described above and a collar 672. The collar 672 and the vessel 102 can be separate components that are connected together. In such cases, the collar 672 can be made from a dimensionally stable material, such as stainless steel, fiber-reinforced materials, steel alloys, cast solid materials, or other suitably rigid materials. In other embodiments, the collar 672 is integral with the vessel 102 and formed from a high-density polymer or other suitable material.

The collar 672 is one embodiment of a mounting fixture 116 (FIG. 2). The collar 672 includes a plurality of interface members 674 that are arranged in a pattern to be aligned with the positioning elements 634 on the deck 630. The positioning elements 634 and the interface members 674 are also configured to mate with one another to precisely position the collar 672, and thus the chamber 670, at a desired operating location on the deck 630 to work with lift-rotate unit 680 and the transport system 690. The positioning elements 634 can be a set of precisely machined holes in the deck 630 and dowels received in the holes, and the interface members 674 can be holes precisely machined in the collar 672 to mate with the dowels. The dowels can be pins with cylindrical, spherical, conical or other suitable shapes to align and position the collar 672 at a precise location relative to the deck 630. The collar 672 can further include a plurality of fasteners 675 arranged to be aligned with the attachment elements 635 in the deck 630. The fasteners 675 can be bolts or other threaded members that securely engage the attachment elements 635 to secure the collar 672 to the deck 630. The collar 672 accordingly holds the processing vessel 102 at a fixed, precise location on the deck.

From the foregoing, it will be appreciated that specific embodiments of the invention have been described herein for purposes of illustration, but that various modifications may be made without deviating from the spirit and scope of the invention. Accordingly, the present invention is not limited except as by the appended claims.

Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US7371306Jun 3, 2004May 13, 2008Semitool, Inc.Integrated tool with interchangeable wet processing components for processing microfeature workpieces
US7393439Dec 11, 2003Jul 1, 2008Semitool, Inc.Integrated microfeature workpiece processing tools with registration systems for paddle reactors
US7934898Jul 16, 2007May 3, 2011Semitool, Inc.High throughput semiconductor wafer processing
WO2013070498A1 *Nov 2, 2012May 16, 2013Medical Components, Inc.Filter assembly for fluid flow path and method of manufacture
Classifications
U.S. Classification210/321.6, 438/689, 216/2, 216/56
International ClassificationB01D63/00, C23F1/00, G01M3/04, C25D17/00
Cooperative ClassificationH01L21/67005, C25D17/00, H01L21/6719, H01L21/68707, H01L21/6723, H01L21/67742, B01D61/425
European ClassificationH01L21/67S, C25D17/00, H01L21/67S2Z10P, H01L21/67S2Z6, B01D61/42B, H01L21/687G, H01L21/677B2
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
Nov 1, 2004ASAssignment
Owner name: SEMITOOL, INC., MONTANA
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNORS:HANSON, KYLE M.;DOLECHEK, KERT L.;REEL/FRAME:015935/0917
Effective date: 20041019