US 20050150463 A1
A holder for maintaining substrates in an array during a high throughput materials deposition comprising a face plate, middle plate and retainer plate attached in sequence and aligned in an axis in which a plurality of cylindrical substrates are maintained in cylindrical chambers formed in an array with respect to the face surface of the block assembly. A spring loading mechanism positions the substrates within the chambers during the processing of the substrates, the substrates are removable from the holder after the completion of processing.
1. A holder for maintaining substrates in an array in which the substrates are subjected to a high throughput materials deposition process comprising:
a block assembly comprising a face plate, middle plate and retainer plate attached in sequence and aligned in an axis in which a plurality of cylindrical substrates are maintained in cylindrical chambers formed in an array with respect to the face surface of the block assembly and in which the substrates are positioned within the chambers by a spring mechanism during the processing of the substrates, and removable therefrom after the completion of processing.
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This is a continuation-in part of our co-pending application Ser. No. 10/757,302 filed on Jan. 14, 2004 entitled “HIGH THROUGHPUT PHYSICAL VAPOR DEPOSITION SYSTEM FOR MATERIAL COMBINATORIAL STUDIES.”
The present invention relates to a holder device, particularly a substrate sample holder useful with a high throughput systems for the synthesis of materials, such as heterogeneous catalysts and other materials synthesized by the combinatorial method in processes such as physical vapor deposition (PVD). After synthesis, the samples are tested for utility as a catalyst or other application.
Our co-pending application, is incorporated herein by reference and discusses difficulties involved in the discovery of material compositions, such as catalysts, from among almost limitless material or compositional possibilities, layer configurations, and material proportions. When samples are formulated and produced, one by one, for testing, using expensive and complex equipment and repetitive test protocols considerable time is consumed. The co-pending application discloses a high throughput system for synthesizing a group of material compositions in a same batch using multiple programmable plasma gun clusters and a positionally programmable x-y table enclosed in a PVD chamber.
It is an object of this invention to provide a sample holder for use in a programmable matrix high throughput system to allow the essentially simultaneous fabrication of multiple, different combinatorial catalyst samples in a batch, in a system in which predetermined spots, substrates or electrodes on a relatively planar array configuration are separately coated with multiple material constituents.
The invention is described more fully in the following description of the preferred embodiment considered in view of the drawings in which:
The invention described in our co-pending application is an infinitely variable physical vapor deposition matrix system that allows the fabrication of multiple combinatorial material samples by the co-deposition of multiple materials or the sequential layer by layer deposition of multiple constituents. Using the system of the invention, the optimum mix or combination of materials for a pre-determined application can be determined by subsequent testing and evaluation of the samples produced.
In the high throughput system using a PVD process, a substrate or substrate holder having an array of discrete spots or coating areas is introduced into a PVD chamber. As shown in
In an example of operation of the system, the relative radial position of the substrate with respect to plasma gun positions is controlled by an appropriate programming and control means. Once the substrate is aligned in position with respect to a plasma gun cluster, a predetermined area or electrode or spot area in an array, such as 14 a, 14 b or 14 . . . , on the substrate or holder is aligned with respect to the opening in the mask 12 by a programmed positioning of the substrate with respect to an x-y axis by an x-y table. The rate or quantity of material deposition with respect to a specific area on the substrate in determined by controlling the shutter, power and other operating parameters of the individual guns.
The present invention comprises a holder for maintaining substrates in an array in a system in which the substrates are subjected to a high throughput materials deposition. The holder is a block assembly comprising a face plate, middle plate and retainer plate attached in sequence and aligned in an axis in which a plurality of cylindrical substrates are maintained in cylindrical chambers formed in an array with respect to the face surface of the block assembly. The substrates are positioned within the chambers by a spring mechanism during the processing of the substrates, and removable therefrom after the completion of processing. The holder is secured to a programmable x-y table in a PVD process in a relationship in which the focus of the PVD plasma source and the surfaces of the substrates maintained in the holder are in approximately the same plane. Examples of the array include substrates arranged in columns and rows in a matrix in the block assembly; the relationship of the number of substrates in rows to the number of substrates (N) in columns may be rowsN=columnsN; the relationship of the number of substrates in one column to of the number of substrates in an adjacent column may be substrates in columnN=N and substrates in column N+1=N+1; the relationship of the number of substrates in one row to of the number of substrates in an adjacent row may be substrates in rowN=N and areas in row N−1=N−1. Generally, however, the substrates may be arranged in any array such that the location of each substrate in the array is capable of being positioned with respect to a defined point by the manipulation of a programmable x-y table.
Substrates maintained in the block in a PVD process are longitudinally extending cylindrical electrodes maintained in cylindrical columns in the block. The upper surface of the electrode is inset within the block such that the transverse cross-section area of an opening in the upper surface of the column in the block in which the electrode is positioned is less than the transverse cross-section area of the upper surface of the electrode. A secondary mask may be positioned within a column in the block adjacent the upper surface of the electrode in the column; and a retainer and spring may be positioned within a column in the block between the lower surface of the electrode in the column and the back retainer plate.
Substrate holder assembly of the invention 46 is shown in
In achieving high throughput using a programmable x-y table to control position of the substrate holder, and consequently the position of individual substrate samples, the columns and rows of sample areas are preferably arranged in a matrix. For example, the number of sample areas in rows may equal the number of sample areas in columns: 3×3; 4×4; 6×6; 8×8; etc. Alternatively, the electrodes in the columns and rows may be staggered, for example, 3-4-3-4; 8-7-8-7-8-7-8, in an order in which the relationship of the number of sample areas in one column to the number of sample areas in an adjacent column is: sample areas in row N=X; sample areas in row N+1=X+1; or sample areas in column N=X; sample areas in column N+1=X+1. As long as positions of the sample spot areas on the substrate surface are programmable, the specific matrix array arrangement of the holder block is discretionary with the test protocol designer. Utilizing a control system interrelating the operation of the plasma guns in the clusters with respect to the substrate areas, separately controllable plasma sources can be programmed such that the plasma materials are deposited either as a layer-by-layer deposition or in a co-deposition relationship, or both.
The holder is conventionally sized and formed from metal or ceramic material(s) otherwise capable of withstanding the environment of a PVD deposition process over multiple uses. One electrode, or substrate, is loaded into each chamber in the array of columns in the holder block, in the assembly order shown in
Having described the invention in detail, those skilled in the art will appreciate that, given the present disclosure, modifications may be made to the invention without departing from the spirit of the inventive concept herein described. Therefore, it is not intended that the scope of the invention be limited to the specific and preferred embodiments illustrations as described. Rather, it is intended that the scope of the invention be determined by the appended claims.