Patents Assigned to Asyst Technologies, Inc.
  • Patent number: 7055875
    Abstract: The present invention comprises a vacuum end effector having workpiece supports that work in conjunction with distorted workpiece surfaces. In one embodiment, each workpiece support has the ability to gimbal and conform the workpiece surface in contact with an outer edge of the support. Each workpiece support preferably provides a knife-like contact edge to minimize the contact area between the support and the workpiece while still providing an effective vacuum area to hold the wafer securely on the support.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: July 10, 2004
    Date of Patent: June 6, 2006
    Assignee: Asyst Technologies, Inc.
    Inventors: Anthony C. Bonora, Roger G. Hine
  • Patent number: 7042568
    Abstract: The present invention is a pre-aligner capable of determining the center of a wafer by casting light onto a wafer that is positioned above a charge-coupled device (CCD). The pre-aligner performs this operation by directing light emitted from a single LED simultaneously onto the wafer and the CCD. The light emitted from the LED is directed through a light guide in order to direct the light onto the wafer and CCD. A lens collimates the light exiting the light guide such that the light, as it passes the wafer's edge, is substantially perpendicular to the wafer's edge. The light guide may be removably secured to the pre-aligner housing for easy installation removal. The pre-aligner is capable of self-calibrate the LED.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: May 15, 2003
    Date of Patent: May 9, 2006
    Assignee: Asyst Technologies, Inc.
    Inventor: Michael J. Mayo
  • Patent number: 6853876
    Abstract: An automated transport system for use in a material handling system. The automated transport system employs a distributed control system including a top level controller (transport controller), a plurality of second-level controllers (control logic computers) and a plurality of third-level controllers (intelligent drivers). The transport controller (TC) receives material commands from a conventional material control system (MCS). The TC breaks the command into sub-commands directing selected control logic computers (CLCs) to acquire, move to a destination or otherwise interact with a particular container designated by the MCS command. The transport controller selects the CLCs based on the transport system topology, the content of the MCS command and knowledge of which regions of the transport system are controlled by respective CLCs. Each CLC implements the sub-commands by issuing to the intelligent drivers low level control commands to accelerate, elevate, rotate, load or unload the container.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: April 3, 2001
    Date of Patent: February 8, 2005
    Assignee: Asyst Technologies, Inc.
    Inventors: Brian Wehrung, Clifford Holden
  • Patent number: 6848876
    Abstract: A reticle management system is disclosed including a sorter coupled to one or more stockers that allow a customized configuration of the overall reticle management system. The stockers may be bare reticle stockers, closed container reticle stockers, or both. In embodiments of the present invention, the reticle management system includes between one and six individual bare reticle stockers and/or closed container stockers for storing reticles affixed to a reticle sorter. The sorter includes a reticle inspection station for inspecting the reticles, a plurality of input/output (I/O) load ports and a reticle handling robot for transferring the reticles between the stockers, the inspection station and the I/O load ports. The management system further includes a control unit for housing control electronics for the system.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: January 12, 2001
    Date of Patent: February 1, 2005
    Assignee: Asyst Technologies, Inc.
    Inventors: Daniel J. Babbs, William J. Fosnight, Tim Cosentino, Mark Sammut, Pascal Pinna, Russell Zemen
  • Patent number: 6810294
    Abstract: The present invention provides for a method of automating a microelectronic manufacturing process by configuring application objects that implement a domain knowledge for a piece of equipment and implementing a workflow using the application object where the workflow represents a sequence of steps in the microelectronic manufacturing process. The method is embodied in a computer program that is part of a computer system.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: August 16, 2002
    Date of Patent: October 26, 2004
    Assignee: Asyst Technologies, Inc.
    Inventors: Murali D. Rangachari, Arun Kumar Sharma, Ramesh Balakrishnan, Balaji Pitchaikani
  • Publication number: 20040111339
    Abstract: An automated transport system for use in a material handling system. The automated transport system employs a distributed control system including a top level controller (transport controller), a plurality of second-level controllers (control logic computers) and a plurality of third-level controllers (intelligent drivers). The transport controller (TC) receives material commands from a conventional material control system (MCS). The TC breaks the command into sub-commands directing selected control logic computers (CLCs) to acquire, move to a destination or otherwise interact with a particular container designated by the MCS command. The transport controller selects the CLCs based on the transport system topology, the content of the MCS command and knowledge of which regions of the transport system are controlled by respective CLCs. Each CLC implements the sub-commands by issuing to the intelligent drivers low level control commands to accelerate, elevate, rotate, load or unload the container.
    Type: Application
    Filed: November 21, 2003
    Publication date: June 10, 2004
    Applicant: Asyst Technologies, Inc.
    Inventors: Brian Wehrung, Clifford Holden
  • Patent number: 6729462
    Abstract: The present invention is an edge grip aligner with buffering capabilities and a method for increasing the throughput of wafers through the device. According to one embodiment, the present invention has first and second buffer arms, and a chuck arm. A workpiece can be aligned while supported on the chuck arm. Once the workpiece is aligned, the chuck arm transfers the workpiece to the buffer arms so that a second workpiece can be aligned on the chuck arm. While the second workpiece is being aligned, an end effector can transfer the first workpiece away from the buffer arms and retrieve another workpiece to place upon the chuck arm.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: May 22, 2003
    Date of Patent: May 4, 2004
    Assignee: Asyst Technologies, Inc.
    Inventors: Daniel A. Babbs, Jae Hong Kim, Matt W. Coady, William J. Fosnight
  • Patent number: 6709225
    Abstract: A system is disclosed for allowing quick and easy installation, maintenance and removal of components within a piece of equipment which may be attached to a front end of processing tool or stand alone unit in a semiconductor processing fab. In a first embodiment, the system includes a translation assembly and a pair of tracks fixedly mounted in frame of the equipment. The translation assembly in this embodiment includes a trolley having four wheels which ride on a portion of each of the tracks. When a component is to be assembled into the piece of equipment, the component is first bolted to the trolley. The trolley and attached component may then be inserted into the frame. The wheels riding on the tracks allow the robot to be quickly and easily moved to its proper position within the equipment. Once properly located, jackscrews threaded through the trolley are rotated to raise the trolley wheels off of the tracks, and to level the trolley and component.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: February 18, 2000
    Date of Patent: March 23, 2004
    Assignee: Asyst Technologies, Inc.
    Inventors: Leon Pitts, Jeffrey Rydman, Warren Oliver, Michael Neads
  • Patent number: 6704998
    Abstract: An I/O minienvirornent including a port door within an I/O port, and a system for removing the port door and pod door coupled thereto, and setting down the pod and port doors at a convenient location within the I/O minienvironment. After wafer processing has been completed and the wafers have been transferred back through the I/O port to the SMEF pod, the system may retrieve the port and pod doors, and return the port door to their sealing positions within the I/O port and cassette, respectively. In a preferred embodiment, the system for gripping and transporting the port and pod doors may be located on the back end of the end effector of the wafer handling robot within the I/O minienvironment. The back end of the end effector is the end of the end effector opposite that used to transport the wafers and/or cassette.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: December 24, 1997
    Date of Patent: March 16, 2004
    Assignee: Asyst Technologies, Inc.
    Inventors: Anthony C. Bonora, William J. Fosnight, Raymond S. Martin
  • Patent number: 6677690
    Abstract: A system is disclosed for safeguarding fab operators and workpieces such as semiconductor wafers from harm as a result of collision between an operator and a transport assembly for the workpieces as the workpieces are transported between tools and storage nests within a tool bay.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: February 2, 2001
    Date of Patent: January 13, 2004
    Assignee: Asyst Technologies, Inc.
    Inventors: William J. Fosnight, Daniel Babbs, Richard Gould, Michael Krolak, David Feindel, Timothy Luong
  • Patent number: 6634851
    Abstract: A wafer handling robot is disclosed for transporting workpieces such as semiconductor wafers and flat panel displays between process tools and/or workpiece storage locations within a wafer fab. The robot includes a base comprising a rigid backbone for providing a significant degree of structural stability to the robot. The base further includes a mast, a linear drive system for translating the mast, and a shoulder drive system for rotating the mast. The shoulder drive system includes a harmonic drive reduction system for providing a stiff, smooth and precise output rotation of the mast section. The robot further includes a proximal link fixedly mounted to the mast for rotation with the mast, and a distal link rotatably mounted to the proximal link. An end effector for supporting various workpieces is rotationally mounted to the distal end of the distal link.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: January 14, 2000
    Date of Patent: October 21, 2003
    Assignee: Asyst Technologies, Inc.
    Inventors: Anthony C. Bonora, Roger G. Hine, Michael Krolak, John F. Grilli
  • Patent number: 6612797
    Abstract: A SMIF interface is disclosed for buffering one or more cassettes within a minienvironment affixed to a process tool. The interface includes a load port formed of a port door and a port plate circumjacent thereabout, and a minienvironment mounted to port plate. The SMIF interface and/or process tool includes at least one shelf for storing a cassette after the load port separates the cassette from its transport pod. In operation, while a first cassette is located within the process tool, a second pod is seated on the load port, the cassette is separated from the pod and the cassette is stored on a storage shelf. When processing on the first cassette is completed, the second cassette is loaded into the processing tool. The first cassette is returned to the pod and removed from the load port. A cassette from a new pod is then seated on the load port, separated from its pod and stored on the storage shelf. This process continues until processing on each scheduled wafer lot is completed.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: May 18, 1999
    Date of Patent: September 2, 2003
    Assignee: Asyst Technologies, Inc.
    Inventors: Anthony C. Bonora, William J. Fosnight, Joshua W. Shenk
  • Patent number: 6592679
    Abstract: A system for preventing contaminants and particulates from coming into contact with a back side of a workpiece as the workpiece is vacuum held on a chuck or robotic end effector.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: July 13, 2001
    Date of Patent: July 15, 2003
    Assignee: Asyst Technologies, Inc.
    Inventor: Michael Krolak
  • Patent number: 6591960
    Abstract: The present invention is an edge grip aligner with buffering capabilities and a method for increasing the throughput of wafers through the device. According to one embodiment, the present invention has first and second buffer arms, and a chuck arm. A workpiece can be aligned while supported on the chuck arm. Once the workpiece is aligned, the chuck arm transfers the workpiece to the buffer arms so that a second workpiece can be aligned on the chuck arm. While the second workpiece is being aligned, an end effector can transfer the first workpiece away from the buffer arms and retrieve another workpiece to place upon the chuck arm.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: August 30, 2001
    Date of Patent: July 15, 2003
    Assignee: Asyst Technologies, Inc.
    Inventors: Daniel A. Babbs, Jae Hong Kim, Matt W. Coady, William J. Fosnight
  • Patent number: 6592317
    Abstract: An end effector for a pod loader interface includes a gripper plate that attaches to the articulated arm. A pair of gripper blades are separated from each other along and are coupled to the gripper plate. During gripping of a wafer carrier, the gripper blades initially close toward each other and then draw nearer to the gripper plate. Nested outer and inner U-shaped yokes, which may attach the gripper plate to the articulated arm, are joined by rotational joints to permit their relative rotation for reorienting the wafer carrier. Yet other aspect of the present invention are a mechanical forearm drive that provides substantially linear motion of an articulated arm's wrist joint, and an end effector rotary-drive included in a forearm of the articulated arm.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: June 13, 2000
    Date of Patent: July 15, 2003
    Assignee: Asyst Technologies, Inc.
    Inventors: John M. Rush, Torben Ulander
  • Patent number: 6591160
    Abstract: A robot calibration system for calibration of a workpiece handling robot relative to a station. The workpiece handling robot includes a sensor mounted on an end effector. The robot calibration system also includes a target, which in coordination with the sensor, allows a control system to determine a center of the target. The target is a wafer in the shape of a disk. A pattern is on at least one side of the workpiece, preferably on a bottom side of the target. The pattern comprises alternating black and white areas. The workpiece handling robot is placed in front of the station which includes a cassette mounted thereon. The cassette has a support surface which supports the target. Once the z-height of the end effector is established with the end effector being in close proximity to a lowermost support surface of the cassette, the end effector proceeds to move in a search pattern searching the pattern for transition points from black to white areas.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: December 4, 2000
    Date of Patent: July 8, 2003
    Assignee: Asyst Technologies, Inc.
    Inventors: Roger G. Hine, Graham L. Hine
  • Patent number: 6591162
    Abstract: A load port assembly capable of monitoring a plurality of performance characteristics of wafer carriers. The load port assembly may include one or more of the following monitoring systems: a torque measurement system, a wafer height measurement system, a carrier identification reader, an information pad, a resistivity measurement system, a cleanliness measurement system, a seal performance detector, and a relative humidity detector. In a preferred embodiment of the present invention, each of the monitoring systems are integrated into either a carrier advance plate or a port door of the load port assembly.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: August 16, 2000
    Date of Patent: July 8, 2003
    Assignee: Asyst Technologies, Inc.
    Inventor: Raymond S. Martin
  • Patent number: 6579052
    Abstract: A storage, delivery and retrieval system having a rear wall to which is affixed a plurality of shelves capable of supporting one or more wafer-carrying pods. The structure further includes a pair of vertical rails lying in a plane spaced from and substantially parallel to the shelf-supporting wall. The horizontal rail extends between and is translationally mounted to the vertical rails, which horizontal rail supports a gripper capable of movement along the horizontal rail. The movement of the horizontal rail along the vertical rails, and the movement of the gripper along the horizontal rail, allows the gripper to be positioned at any location within an X-Z plane including the storage shelves. The system includes a two-dimensional transport system. That is, all transport of the pods by the system occurs without the pods ever leaving the X-Z plane of the shelves. This feature contributes to the overall small footprint of the system.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: July 11, 1997
    Date of Patent: June 17, 2003
    Assignee: Asyst Technologies, Inc.
    Inventors: Anthony C. Bonora, Raymond S. Martin, Robert Netsch, Joshua T. Oen, Terry Mosier, William J. Fosnight
  • Patent number: 6575687
    Abstract: A wafer transport mechanism is disclosed capable of transferring workpiece cassettes between lot boxes and SMIF pods. The transport mechanism includes a frame having a first support platform on a first side of the frame for supporting a SMIF pod, and a second support platform on a second side of the frame for supporting a lot box. The frame further includes a carrier transfer mechanism which resides completely within the frame when in a home position. The transfer mechanism includes an arm and a gripper pivotally mounted to the arm. Once a SMIF pod and lot box are seated on their respective support platforms, the transfer mechanism transfers a cassette between the two containers.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: December 4, 2000
    Date of Patent: June 10, 2003
    Assignee: Asyst Technologies, Inc.
    Inventors: Anthony C. Bonora, Robert R. Netsch, Richard Gould
  • Patent number: 6536813
    Abstract: The present invention includes a latch assembly, such as maybe useful for SMIF pods. SMIF pods are in general comprised of a pod door which mates with a pod shell to provide a sealed environment in which wafers may be stored and transferred. During wafer storage and transport, the pod door is typically held affixed to the pod shell by a latch assembly. When it is desired to separate the pod door from the pod shell, each latch must be actuated outwardly, to withdraw each engagement portion from the pod door, at which time the pod door may be separated. The present invention includes an improved such latch assembly.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: July 10, 2001
    Date of Patent: March 25, 2003
    Assignee: Asyst Technologies, Inc.
    Inventors: Mark V. Smith, Robert P. Wartenbergh, William P. Pennybacker