US 20080050217 A1
A kinematic pin and a substrate carrier adapted to deter dislodgment of the substrate carrier from the kinematic pin are provided. A shear member on the kinematic pin interacts with a shear feature of the substrate carrier to deter lateral movement of the substrate carrier relative to the kinematic pin. A substrate carrier handler that employs the kinematic pin is also provided.
1. A method of deterring lateral movement of a substrate carrier comprising:
providing a kinematic pin for supporting a substrate carrier, the kinematic pin having an inclined surface and a shear member extending upwardly from the inclined surface;
placing a substrate carrier having a feature adapted to mate with the kinematic pin, in contact with the kinematic pin such that the kinematic pin contacts the mating feature;
aligning the substrate carrier on the kinematic pin via the inclined surface; and
deterring lateral movement of the aligned substrate carrier via the shear member.
2. The method of
3. The method of
This application is a division of and claims priority to U.S. patent application Ser. No. 10/988,175, filed Nov. 12, 2004, which claims priority to U.S. Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 60/520,054, filed Nov. 13, 2003, each of which is hereby incorporated by reference herein in its entirety for all purposes.
The present application is related to the following commonly-assigned, co-pending U.S. Patent Applications, each of which is hereby incorporated herein by reference in its entirety for all purposes:
U.S. patent application Ser. No. 10/650,310, filed Aug. 28, 2003 and titled “System For Transporting Substrate Carriers” (Attorney Docket No. 6900/Y01), now U.S. Pat. No. 7,234,584;
U.S. patent application Ser. No. 10/650,480, filed Aug. 28, 2003 and titled “Substrate Carrier Handler That Unloads Substrate Carriers Directly From a Moving Conveyor” (Attorney Docket No. 7676/Y01), now U.S. Pat. No. 7,243,003;
U.S. patent application Ser. No. 10/764,982, filed Jan. 26, 2004 and titled “Methods and Apparatus for Transporting Substrate Carriers” (Attorney Docket No. 7163), now U.S. Pat. No. 7,077,264; and
U.S. patent application Ser. No. 10/764,820, filed Jan. 26, 2004, and titled “Overhead Transfer Flange and Support for Suspending Substrate Carrier” (Attorney Docket No. 8092).
The present invention relates generally to the field of semiconductor substrate carriers, and more specifically to methods and apparatuses for aligning a substrate carrier on a surface and preventing lateral motion of the substrate carrier despite acceleration thereof.
In the process of producing semiconductor devices, silicon substrates are commonly stored in substrate carriers. In turn, substrate carriers are commonly supported by substrate carrier support surfaces having kinematic pins attached thereto designed to interact with mating features of the substrate carrier. As long as the substrate carrier is placed on the support surface so that the mating features of the substrate carrier are roughly aligned, but not necessarily precisely aligned with the kinematic pins (i.e., within the “capture window” as defined by the geometry of the kinematic pins and/or the mating features of the substrate carrier), the force of gravity will generally be sufficient to enable the substrate carrier to settle into precise alignment with the kinematic pins of the support surface.
The present invention provides a kinematic pin for supporting a substrate carrier. The inventive kinematic pin comprises a pin body having an inclined surface adapted to slidably communicate with an inclined surface of a mating feature of a substrate carrier, and adapted to allow the mating feature to locate on and laterally align with the kinematic pin via the force of gravity. The pin body further has a shear, i.e, a member adapted to deter a lateral inertial load (e.g., arising from the substrate carrier) from urging the mating feature into misalignment with the kinematic pin.
The invention further provides an inventive substrate carrier comprising a substrate carrier body adapted to support a substrate and having a bottom surface. One or more features are located on the bottom surface of the substrate carrier body and are adapted to interface with a kinematic pin so as to align the substrate carrier on the kinematic pin. A shear member interface is located within the one or more features on the bottom surface of the substrate carrier. The shear member interface has generally vertical sides and is adapted to interface with a shear member of a kinematic pin, so as to deter lateral motion of the substrate carrier relative to the kinematic pin.
An inventive method of deterring lateral movement of a substrate carrier comprises providing a kinematic pin for supporting a substrate carrier, the kinematic pin having an inclined surface and a shear member extending from the inclined surface; placing a substrate carrier having a feature adapted to mate with the kinematic pin, in contact with the kinematic pin such that the kinematic pin contacts the substrate carrier's mating feature; aligning the substrate carrier on the kinematic pin via the inclined surface; and deterring lateral movement of the aligned substrate carrier via the shear member.
An inventive substrate carrier handler is also provided. The inventive substrate carrier handler comprises a surface for supporting a substrate carrier, and one or more kinematic pins located on the surface for supporting a substrate carrier. Each kinematic pin has an inclined surface for aligning the substrate carrier and a shear member located on the inclined surface for deterring lateral movement of the substrate carrier relative to the one or more kinematic pins. A controller is adapted to cause the substrate carrier handler to accelerate the surface for supporting a substrate carrier, so as to generate a lateral inertial load between the one or more kinematic pins, and a substrate carrier supported thereon.
Once a substrate carrier is precisely aligned on the kinematic pins, lateral forces and twisting forces, if present with sufficient magnitude, may tend to dislodge the substrate carrier from the kinematic pins, potentially causing damage to the substrate, substrate carrier, or other equipment. The inventive kinematic pins, substrate carriers, and kinematic pin/substrate carrier handler systems are adapted to deter such dislodgment and thus are advantageously employed when significant substrate carrier accelerations are required.
Other features and aspects of the present invention will become more fully apparent from the following detailed description of the preferred embodiments, the appended claims and the accompanying drawings.
In accordance with the present invention, an inventive kinematic pin, an inventive substrate carrier, and an inventive kinematic pin/substrate carrier system are provided which are adapted to deter dislodgment of a substrate carrier from a kinematic pin on which it sits, particularly when such dislodgment is caused by generally horizontally-oriented forces. Specifically, a novel shear member on the kinematic pin interacts with a novel feature of the substrate carrier to deter lateral movement of the substrate carrier relative to the kinematic pin. The system, which is described below with reference to
Preferably, the cylindrical surface 115 of the shear portion 105 and the substrate carrier support surface 123 of the substrate carrier support portion 107 are coaxial, e.g. about common axis 125 as shown in
The kinematic slot 137 is defined by the inclined surface 139 which comprises a first flat inclined wall 155 adjacent the first flat vertical wall 145, a second flat inclined wall 157 adjacent the second flat vertical wall 147, a first frustoconically-shaped wall 159 adjacent the first half-cylindrical vertical wall 149, and a second frustoconically-shaped wall 161 adjacent the second half-cylindrical vertical wall 151. The first and second flat inclined walls 155, 157 meet the first and second frustoconically-shaped walls 159, 161 along a first through a fourth inclined tangent line 163, 165, 167 (obscured), and 169. The inclined surface 139 of the kinematic slot 137 of the substrate carrier 127 is adapted to achieve slidable linear communication with a similarly inclined surface of a kinematic pin, e.g., the frustoconically-shaped substrate carrier support surface 123 of the kinematic pin 101.
As shown in
Reference plane 175 intersects the inclined surface 139 of the substrate carrier 127 at the second inclined tangent line 165 and the third inclined tangent line 167.
Once substrate carrier support portion 107 is supporting the substrate carrier 127 via contact between the substrate carrier support surface 123 of the kinematic pin 101 and the inclined surface 139 of the substrate carrier 127 and the shear portion 105 of the kinematic pin 101 is lodged within the shear slot 141 of the substrate carrier 127, lateral motion of the kinematic pin 101 relative to the shear portion 105, e.g., motion along the lateral direction 181, i.e., normal to the direction in which the shear slot 141 extends, is deterred in a much more direct manner than would be the case if the kinematic pin 101 were not equipped with the shear portion 105, and the substrate carrier 127 were not equipped with the shear slot 141.
It is apparent that, depending upon the snugness of the fit between the shear portion 105 and the shear slot 141, if the kinematic pin 101 or the substrate carrier 127 in
If the kinematic pin mating feature 135 of the substrate carrier 127 of
If the motive force referenced above comprises an inertial force arising from the substrate carrier 127, e.g., due to an end effector (comprising three of the kinematic pins 101 and supporting the substrate carrier 127) subjecting the substrate carrier 127 to negative acceleration after removing the substrate carrier 127 from a moving conveyor (not shown), or due to such an end effector subjecting the substrate carrier 127 to positive acceleration in preparation for depositing the substrate carrier 127 on a moving conveyor (not shown), it is apparent that if the motive force is large enough, and is applied for a long enough period of time, it can cause the substrate carrier 127 to slide off the kinematic pin 101 completely, and to become grossly misaligned with the end effector (not shown), or even to fall off the end effector (not shown).
Given the same starting condition as in the previous paragraph (i.e., no shear portion 105 and no shear slot 141, it is also apparent that if a twisting force of sufficient magnitude were applied to the substrate carrier 127, the substrate carrier 127 would slide up and off all three of the kinematic pins 101 simultaneously.
Referring once again to
The shear portion 105 may be caused to occupy the shear slot 141 via direct vertical relative motion between the kinematic pin 101 and the substrate carrier 127 as shown in
Although the apparatus 701 may be any apparatus having a substrate carrier handler adapted to accelerate a substrate carrier so as to impose a lateral inertial load on the end effector's kinematic pins, the apparatus 701 and substrate carrier handler 703 thereof, preferably is configured like the high speed system disclosed in previously incorporated U.S. patent application Ser. No. 10/650,480 filed Aug. 28, 2003 (AMAT 7676/Y01), now U.S. Pat. No. 7,243,003. Specifically, the apparatus 701 preferably includes a plurality of docking stations 707 at which substrate carriers (preferably those adapted to transport only a single substrate at a time) are opened and substrate(s) loaded and unloaded thereto/from.
The substrate carrier handler 703 preferably comprises vertical supports 709 and a horizontal support 711 coupled to the vertical supports 709 for vertical movement therealong. The end effector 705 is coupled to move horizontally along the horizontal support 711, and a controller 713 controls the apparatus 701 such that the end effector 705 may accelerate, and match velocity with a substrate carrier or substrate carrier support being transported by a moving overhead transport system so as to hand off substrate carriers therebetween (with minimal impact on the substrate carrier). The substrate carrier handler 703 then decelerates and transports the substrate carrier to one of the docking stations 707. As the apparatus 701 is configured for such a moving handoff, inertial loads may cause substrate carriers to dislodge from the end effector's kinematic pins, absent the use of the inventive shear pin and substrate carrier described above with reference to
The foregoing description discloses only a preferred embodiment of the invention; modifications of the above disclosed apparatus which fall within the scope of the invention will be readily apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art. For instance, the inventive kinematic pin may be employed on other types of substrate carrier handlers than that shown and described with reference to
The specific shape of the pin body, shear member, and shear slot may vary. In fact, the substrate carriers mating feature need not consist of a slot, but instead could be a circular or elliptical indentation, etc. Further, the mating feature may comprise a downward protrusion that mates with a corresponding aperture, indentation or depressed shear member of the kinematic pin.
Instead of the single shear member a plurality of shear members may be located on a single kinematic pin.
While the present invention has been described primarily with reference to wafers, it will be understood that the invention also may be employed with other substrates such as a mask, a reticule, a silicon substrate, a glass plate, etc., whether patterned or unpatterned; and/or with apparatus for transporting and/or processing such substrates.
Accordingly, while the present invention has been disclosed in connection with exemplary embodiments thereof, it should be understood that other embodiments may fall within the spirit and scope of the invention, as defined by the following claims.