Patents Assigned to Asyst Technologies, Inc.
  • Patent number: 6533101
    Abstract: A system for transporting articles. The transport system includes a conveyor system which includes a transport carrier for carrying one or more articles between workstations and a drive rail and a support rail for supporting the transport carrier. The drive rail includes a drive system for propelling the transport carrier between workstations. At least one shoe carried by the transport carrier rides on the support rail for movably supporting the transport carrier on the support rail. The transport system may also includes a protective container including a housing having an interior compartment for supporting one or more articles. The bottom surface of the housing is configured to engage the drive system such that actuation of the drive system propels the housing along the drive and support rails. At least one shoe carried by the housing is configured to ride on the support rail of the conveyor system to movably support the housing on the support rail.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: April 16, 2002
    Date of Patent: March 18, 2003
    Assignee: Asyst Technologies, Inc.
    Inventors: Anthony C. Bonora, Richard H. Gould
  • Patent number: 6530736
    Abstract: A SMIF load port assembly is disclosed including a port door position compensation assembly capable of dynamically adjusting a relative spacing between a front surface of a port door and a front surface of a pod door loaded onto the load port assembly so as to compensate for any improper positioning of the front surface of the pod. The position compensation assembly includes a plunger translationally mounted in the port door, and a sensor for detecting a position of the plunger. As a pod is loaded onto the load port assembly is advanced toward the port door, the front surface of the pod door contacts the plunger at which point the position compensation assembly in combination with an overall controller can identify the exact position of the pod door. From this identification, the position of the port and/or pod doors may be adjusted to compensate for any improper positioning of the front surface of the pod door on the load port assembly.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: July 13, 2001
    Date of Patent: March 11, 2003
    Assignee: Asyst Technologies, Inc.
    Inventor: Frederick T. Rosenquist
  • Patent number: 6513654
    Abstract: The present invention is a support structure for supporting a reticle or silicon wafer. The support structure includes a support column and a retaining structure. In addition to retaining a wafer, the present invention also creates a discharge path to remove electrostatic charges from the wafer. The retaining structure mechanically engages each support column to create a discharge path from the wafer to a ground. Specifically, electrostatic charges that dissipate from the wafer travel along the support structure to the support column and exit the SMIF pod through the pod door.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: July 10, 2001
    Date of Patent: February 4, 2003
    Assignee: Asyst Technologies, Inc.
    Inventors: Mark V. Smith, Robert P. Wartenbergh, William P. Pennybacker
  • Patent number: 6502869
    Abstract: A system is disclosed for ensuring that the pod door is firmly and securely retained on the port door of a process tool as the pod door is removed from the pod and stowed in the process tool during workpiece transfer between the pod and process tool. The system includes a latch key protruding outwardly from the outer surface of the port door. The latch key is provided to mate within a slot of a door latch assembly within the pod door. Once the latch key is properly seated within the slot, the latch key is rotated by mechanisms within the port door to decouple the pod door from the pod shell. Such rotation at the same time couples the pod door to the port door. According to the present invention, while the latch key rotates, it simultaneously moves in the rearward direction (i.e., back toward the port door) to thereby pull the pod door into a tight engagement with the port door.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: July 14, 1998
    Date of Patent: January 7, 2003
    Assignee: Asyst Technologies, Inc.
    Inventors: Frederick T. Rosenquist, Michael Ng
  • Patent number: 6494308
    Abstract: A system for transporting articles. The transport system includes a conveyor system which includes a transport device for carrying articles between workstations and a drive rail and a support rail for supporting the transport device. The drive rail includes a drive system for propelling the transport device between workstations. At least one shoe carried by the transport device rides on the support rail for movably supporting the transport device on the support rail. The transport system also includes a protective container including a housing having an interior compartment for supporting a plurality of articles. The bottom surface of the housing is configured to engage the drive system such that actuation of the drive system propels the housing along the drive and support rails. At least one shoe carried by the housing is configured to ride on the support rail of the conveyor system to movably support the housing on the support rail.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: February 8, 2001
    Date of Patent: December 17, 2002
    Assignee: Asyst Technologies, Inc.
    Inventors: Anthony C. Bonora, Richard H. Gould
  • Patent number: 6481558
    Abstract: A transfer system and method for moving an article between a conveyor and a workstation. The transfer system includes an elevator system having a lift device configured to engage the article carried by a conveyor and raise the article above the conveyor. The lift device is movable between a stand-by position with the lift device positioned for the movement of articles past the lift device along the conveyor, and an actuated position with the lift device holding the article above the conveyor. The transfer system also includes a support assembly for supporting the article vicinal a workstation. The support assembly including a shelf for retaining the article at the workstation and a displacement mechanism for moving the shelf between the conveyor and the lift device. The method includes moving a support to engage the article and lift the article above the conveyor, extending a load port shelf to the conveyor and inserting the shelf between the article and the conveyor.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: December 10, 1999
    Date of Patent: November 19, 2002
    Assignee: Asyst Technologies, Inc.
    Inventors: Anthony C. Bonora, Richard H. Gould, Jeffrey R. Kerr
  • Patent number: 6478532
    Abstract: An aligner is disclosed including a buffer mechanism having a buffer paddle on which wafers may be buffered to increase the throughput of the aligner. The aligner is provided in general to identify a position of a notch, position and read the associated indicial mark and determine the radial runout of the wafer. The aligner includes a rotating support platform in the form of a chuck on which the wafers are received from the robot. A motor rotates the chuck so that the radial runout and notch of the wafer may be identified. According to the present invention, the aligner further includes a buffer mechanism having a buffer paddle and a drive mechanism for vertically translating the buffer paddle. The aligner further includes an analog sensor for determining the notch location, the radial runout and/or the position of the indicial mark on a wafer being rotated on the chuck.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: November 30, 1999
    Date of Patent: November 12, 2002
    Assignee: Asyst Technologies, Inc.
    Inventors: Matthew W. Coady, Hillman L. Bailey
  • Patent number: 6473668
    Abstract: An intelligent minienvironment control system designed to optimize the minienvironment performance, improve the protection for the multi-million dollar equipment within a fab, and to improve the safety conditions for fab personnel. The intelligent minienvironment control system is comprised of a plurality of minienvironment control and monitoring systems (MCMSs), one such system being associated with each minienvironment in the fab. The MCMSs continuously monitor the environmental conditions within the minienvironments. Each of the MCMSs are linked together in a local area network to form an integrated fab-wide minienvironment management system. The management system also includes workstations linked to the network for storing historical data for, and allowing remote access to, each of the MCMSs in the system.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: June 4, 2001
    Date of Patent: October 29, 2002
    Assignee: Asyst Technologies, Inc.
    Inventors: Salem Abuzeid, Xiaohua George He, George Tannous
  • Patent number: 6468021
    Abstract: An integrated intra-bay transfer, storage and delivery system is provided for moving an article between a conveyor and a station such as a work station. The system includes a transfer assembly which includes a lift mechanism and a displacement mechanism. The transfer assembly transfers the article between the conveyor system and a buffer or storage station for storage of the article. A delivery robot transfers the article between the buffer or storage station and a work station for delivery to the station. The robot includes a vertical movement mechanism and a horizontal movement mechanism. The robot also includes an arm that is adapted to grip the article, particularly an article of a standard configuration having a mushroom-shaped handle on top. The arm engages the handle and lifts the article or transport pod from the storage station to a load port of the work station. In one embodiment, the arm includes a C-shaped adaptation that passively engages the handle from a side thereof.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: December 14, 1999
    Date of Patent: October 22, 2002
    Assignee: Asyst Technologies, Inc.
    Inventors: Anthony C. Bonora, Richard H. Gould, Michael Brain, David V. Adams
  • Publication number: 20020108842
    Abstract: A system for transporting articles. The transport system includes a conveyor system which includes a transport carrier for carrying one or more articles between workstations and a drive rail and a support rail for supporting the transport carrier. The drive rail includes a drive system for propelling the transport carrier between workstations. At least one shoe carried by the transport carrier rides on the support rail for movably supporting the transport carrier on the support rail. The transport system may also includes a protective container including a housing having an interior compartment for supporting one or more articles. The bottom surface of the housing is configured to engage the drive system such that actuation of the drive system propels the housing along the drive and support rails. At least one shoe carried by the housing is configured to ride on the support rail of the conveyor system to movably support the housing on the support rail.
    Type: Application
    Filed: April 16, 2002
    Publication date: August 15, 2002
    Applicant: Asyst Technologies, Inc.
    Inventors: Anthony C. Bonora, Richard H. Gould
  • Patent number: 6430877
    Abstract: A system is disclosed for ensuring a properly aligned position of a pod door within the opening in a pod shell upon location of the pod at a tool load port. The door positioning assembly according to the present invention includes a cam affixed to rotating latch hubs of a pod door latching assembly, and a cam follower mounted around each of the cams, which followers include arm portions that extend out toward an edge of the pod door. When the pod door and shell are separated, the arm portions are held in a retracted position completely contained within the footprint of the pod door. However, upon rejoining the pod door to the pod shell, mechanisms in the port door rotate the latch hub cams. Cam rotation causes translation of the arm portions of the cam followers so that the ends of the arm portions extend out beyond an edge of the pod door and against a surface of the pod shell. In their extended positions, the arm portions maintain a desired vertical positioning of the pod door within the pod shell opening.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: July 13, 1998
    Date of Patent: August 13, 2002
    Assignee: Asyst Technologies, Inc.
    Inventors: Frederick T. Rosenquist, Perry A. Peterson
  • Patent number: 6419438
    Abstract: A front opening interface mechanical standard, or “FIMS”, system is disclosed for ensuring proper registration of a pod door against a port door on a load port assembly without the use of guide pins on the port door. In a preferred embodiment, the load port assembly includes kinematic pins provided to mate within slots on the bottom of a FOUP to provide a fixed and repeatable position of the FOUP on the load port assembly. The load port assembly further includes a pair of latch keys protruding outwardly from the outer surface of the port door for mating within slots of a door latch assembly within the pod door. The load port assembly may further include vacuum seals on the port door, or magnetic assemblies, to further facilitate support of the pod door on the port door. In one embodiment, with the above constraints, the load port assembly may initially include removable alignment pins.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: November 28, 2000
    Date of Patent: July 16, 2002
    Assignee: Asyst Technologies, Inc.
    Inventor: Frederick T. Rosenquist
  • Patent number: 6398032
    Abstract: A SMIF pod capable of supporting a cassette at points in the pod located directly over or near a kinematic coupling between the pod and a surface on which the pod is supported. Even if the pod shell warps or otherwise deforms, the three points of contact between the pod and the support surface at the kinematic couplings will always remain at a fixed, controllable and repeatable position. The present invention makes use of this fact by supporting the cassette at or near the three kinematic coupling points. Moreover, the support structure is not affixed to the top or sides of the pod shell. Thus, the position of the cassette, and wafers supported therein, will similarly remain at a fixed, controllable and repeatable position, substantially unaffected by any pod shell deformation which may occur.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: May 5, 1998
    Date of Patent: June 4, 2002
    Assignee: Asyst Technologies, Inc.
    Inventors: William J. Fosnight, Anthony C. Bonora, Raymond S. Martin, Perry Peterson
  • Patent number: 6364595
    Abstract: A reticle transfer system is disclosed for transferring reticles between a reticle-carrying SMIF container and a process tool. The reticle transfer system according to the present invention includes an arm assembly having a transfer arm and a gripping mechanism affixed to the end of the transfer arm. Once the container carrying the reticle has been opened, the gripping mechanism is rotated and translated to a position adjacent the reticle so that it may access the reticle and transfer it into the minienvironment through an access port in the minienvironment. In order to precisely, easily and repeatedly position the gripping mechanism in the desired location to grip and transfer the reticle, the gripping mechanism includes four downwardly extending posts spaced apart from each other so as to contact an outer rim of the container door as the gripping mechanism is lowered into position to grip and transfer the reticle.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: February 10, 1999
    Date of Patent: April 2, 2002
    Assignee: Asyst Technologies, Inc.
    Inventors: Anthony C. Bonora, William J. Fosnight, Joshua W. Shenk
  • Publication number: 20020030113
    Abstract: An intelligent minienvironment control system designed to optimize the minienvironment performance, improve the protection for the multi-million dollar equipment within a fab, and to improve the safety conditions for fab personnel. The intelligent minienvironment control system is comprised of a plurality of minienvironment control and monitoring systems (MCMSs), one such system being associated with each minienvironment in the fab. The MCMSs continuously monitor the environmental conditions within the minienvironment. Each of the MCMSs are linked together in a local area network to form an integrated fab-wide minienvironment management system. The management system also includes workstations linked to the network for storing historical data for, and allowing remote access to, each of the MCMSs in the system.
    Type: Application
    Filed: June 4, 2001
    Publication date: March 14, 2002
    Applicant: Asyst Technologies, Inc.
    Inventors: Salem Abuzeid, Xiaohua George He, George Tannous
  • Patent number: 6326755
    Abstract: A dual paddle end effector robot is disclosed which is capable of parallel processing of workpieces. The end effector includes a lower paddle rotatably coupled to an end of the distal link, and an upper paddle rotatably coupled to the lower paddle. The lower paddle supports a drive assembly capable of rotating the upper paddle with respect to the lower paddle. In one embodiment of the present invention, the dual paddle end effector robot may be used within a wafer sorter to perform parallel processing of workpieces on a pair of aligners within the sorter. In such an embodiment, the robot may first acquire a pair of workpieces from adjacent shelves within the workpiece cassette. After withdrawing from the cassette, the respective paddles on the end effector may fan out and transfer the wafers to the chucks of the respective aligners.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: April 12, 2000
    Date of Patent: December 4, 2001
    Assignee: Asyst Technologies, Inc.
    Inventors: Daniel Babbs, Timothy Ewald, Matthew Coady, Jae Kim
  • Patent number: 6318953
    Abstract: An ergonomic loading assembly for an I/O port onto which a bare cassette may be easily loaded and unloaded. The loading assembly further provides isolation between the operator and the I/O port after loading of a cassette to minimize safety risks and to minimize the amount of particulates and contaminants around the workpieces while on the port. In a preferred embodiment, the loading assembly includes a cover assembly having a stationary cover section around the port plate, and two pivoting cover sections which open and close like jaws to allow a cassette to positioned within the cover assembly when opened and which enclose the cassette within the cover assembly when closed. The loading assembly further includes a pivoting deck onto which the cassette is loaded when the pivoting cover sections are open. The deck receives the cassette with the workpieces oriented at or near vertical.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: July 12, 1999
    Date of Patent: November 20, 2001
    Assignee: Asyst Technologies, Inc.
    Inventors: Anthony C. Bonora, Robert Netsch, Patrick Sullivan, William J. Fosnight, Joshua Shenk, Edwin Noma
  • Patent number: 6319297
    Abstract: Modular cartridges which may be inserted into and removed from a well or receptacle on the bottom of a pod. The cartridges may be configured to include various types and combinations of valves, filters, and/or conditioning agents. A standalone cartridge replacement station may be provided for inserting and removing various cartridges from one or more of the receptacles on the bottom of a pod while wafers are seated within the pod. The standalone replacement unit may decouple an existing cartridge from the pod by rotating the cartridge from a locked to an unlocked position and then lowering the cartridge out of the pod. Thereafter, the replacement station may insert a new cartridge up into the appropriate receptacle and rotate the cartridge into a locked position in the pod.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: March 27, 1998
    Date of Patent: November 20, 2001
    Assignee: Asyst Technologies, Inc.
    Inventor: William J. Fosnight
  • Patent number: 6308818
    Abstract: A director assembly for selectively directing a transport carrier from one conveyor path portion to another. The director assembly having a pair of spaced director rails positioned below and in between drive and support rails of the conveyor. The pair of spaced director rails can be selectively raised and rotated and then lowered to direct the carrier to the new path portion.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: August 2, 1999
    Date of Patent: October 30, 2001
    Assignee: Asyst Technologies, Inc.
    Inventors: Anthony C. Bonora, Richard H. Gould
  • Patent number: 6298280
    Abstract: A system for positioning an end effector of a wafer handling robot with respect to a wafer to be extracted from a cassette, and for thereafter reading an indicial mark on the wafer. The system includes a pair of sensor units fixedly mounted on the end effector, which sensor units are capable of detecting the wafer edge upon approach of the end effector toward the wafer. Based on the positions of the end effector when the first and then the second sensor units detect the edge of the wafer, a computer may determine the orientation of the end effector with respect to the wafer, and adjust a position of the end effector to a center of the wafer. Thereafter, the indicial mark on the wafer may be read by a camera by withdrawing the wafer from the cassette on the end effector, positioning the center of the wafer over the central axis of rotation of the wafer handling robot, and rotating the robot until the indicial mark is located under the camera.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: September 28, 1998
    Date of Patent: October 2, 2001
    Assignee: Asyst Technologies, Inc.
    Inventors: Anthony C. Bonora, William J. Fosnight, Krishna D. Swamy, Mark R. Davis, Mike Cookson