Clean room transportation package for process chamber kit

- Applied Materials, Inc.

A clean room transportation package is useful to transport a process chamber kit having a number of chamber components having different shapes. The package comprises a first rigid tray having a first edge having a first rim and a plurality of first troughs extending outwardly from the first ledge that is detachably assembled to a second rigid tray having a plurality of second troughs extending outwardly from the second ledge. The second tray has a second rim that couples with the first rim of the first tray to form a seal therebetween. A plurality of conformal cells having different internal surface profiles are formed by the facing pairs of first and second troughs such that each conformal cell has an internal surface profile that is conformal to an external surface profile of one of the different chamber components of the kit so that movement of the chamber component in its conformal cell is minimized during transportation. A state of each chamber component of the process chamber kit may also be observed through a substantially transparent portion of a tray.

Skip to: Description  ·  Claims  · Patent History  ·  Patent History

Description

BACKGROUND

[0001] An aspect of the present invention relates to portable package to transport a process chamber kit having different components into a clean room.

[0002] Many different types of packaging are used to transport process chamber components into a clean room environment, which is a room in which the ambient particle content in the environment is under control to allow contamination free processing of integrated circuit chips and displays. In one type of packaging, individual chamber components are surrounded by sealed plastic bags, which nest inside cut-outs of a foam block matrix. The foam block matrix is secured in a component box and shipped to a distribution site or a customer, in shipping containers. Cleanroom foam is a highly compressed, spongy, polyethylene foam material, such as for example, Zotefoam's “Plastazote LD-24”, from FP Technologies, Ventura, Calif. The foam block matrix comprises individual blocks of cleanroom foam that are bonded to one another to form the requisite cut-out shapes. The component boxes typically have sidewalls of plastic or other materials that are joined with metal edging and filled with a block matrix of foam. The component boxes have handles to facilitate transportation of the packed components to the cleanroom environment.

[0003] Conventional packaging has a number of problems associated with the transportation and opening of such packaging in the cleanroom environment. For example, conventional packaging often generates contaminants and undesirable outgassing in the cleanroom environment. Typically, the shipping container is unpacked outside the cleanroom, and the inner component box is removed. When cleanroom foam is used, the foam block matrix is often unpacked in the cleanroom environment. However during such unpacking and removal of the component parts from the foam block, the individual grains or small chunks of the foam can abrade off and create contaminant particles. Furthermore, cleanroom foam typically has an open cellular structure that is porous, for example, with pores sized about 10 to 100 microns. The gases trapped in these pores can outgas into the cleanroom environment. The bonding layers between the separate blocks of foam that are used to create the three-dimensional block matrix can also outgas or create polymeric contaminant particles.

[0004] In some cases, the foam materials of the block itself cannot be brought into the cleanroom, so the individual sealed component bags have to be unpacked and carried into the cleanroom. During such transportation, the soft plastic that is used to form the sealable package around individual component parts can rupture causing the internal parts to become contaminated by the external environment. Storage of the soft plastic bags in the cleanroom environment for eventual use is also difficult because they are not easily stackable and can be punctured. Moreover, the mere act of carrying the individual component parts for some distance raises the risk of dropping and damaging the parts.

[0005] A further problem arises because the foam materials and external box do not allow visual examination of their internal contents. For example, if a chamber component breaks or chips within the closed box, the breakage is often not discovered until the box is opened in the cleanroom environment. Moreover, in an intermediary transportation point, such as a parts distribution warehouse, the state of the packaged components cannot be inspected prior to shipment to the consumer without opening the container and contaminating the component part. In addition, stringent customs inspections involved in international transportation that require the opening of such containers to allow the customs agent to verify the internal contents, necessitates breaking the seal in a potentially adverse environment, and may cause the part to be subsequently scrapped upon completing the voyage.

[0006] Yet another problem arises because it is difficult to attach labels onto conventional foam packaging. Typically, a recessed area is machined into the foam container by routing, and a thick epoxy layer is applied within the recess. The label is then adhered to the thick epoxy layer. However, such epoxy materials can outgas in a low pressure environment or when heated to even ambient room temperatures. In addition, in the routing process the foam can fragment, thus generating defective packaging.

[0007] Another problem arises when transporting or shipping a process chamber kit having a number of different chamber components that are related to one another. For example, the kit may comprise different portions of a liner to line the walls of the process chamber. These liners are routinely cleaned, refurbished, or replaced during operation of the chamber, so it is often necessary to ship a kit of related liner parts at the same time. When such kits are separately packed and shipped, it becomes necessary to reassemble the kit at a distribution center or customer site, wasting resources and sometimes resulting in an improper assembly of parts. This problem is further exacerbated when unpacking conventional packaging and transporting the individual components of a kit into the clean room, where they are promptly misplaced or intermingled with other components, especially if they are stored for some time before use. Storage in the clean room is desirable to reduce chamber downtime, by allowing prompt replacement of a component part when it fails or needs cleaning. Unsealed or loose part kits can also be lost or stolen.

[0008] Thus, it is desirable to have a packaging that allows a sensitive chamber component part to be safely transported from the fabricator to a cleanroom environment. It is also desirable for the packaging to maintain a gas tight seal from the external environment. It is further desirable that the packaging can be easily labeled. It would also be desirable to have packaging that allows visual inspection of internal parts without breaking seals or opening the packaging. It is also desirable to transport and store a kit of related parts and identify them as needed. Moreover it is desirable that the packaging be capable of being fitted with anti-tamper tapes, seals, locks, or other means.

SUMMARY

[0009] A clean room transportation package is useful to transport a process chamber kit having a plurality of differently shaped chamber components directly into a clean room environment. The package comprises a first rigid tray having a first ledge with a first rim and a plurality of first troughs extending outwardly from the first ledge. A second rigid tray is detachable from the first tray. The second tray has a second ledge having a second rim that couples with the first rim of the first ledge to form a seal therebetween. The second tray also has a plurality of second troughs extending outwardly from the second ledge. A plurality of conformal cells having different internal surface profiles are formed by facing pairs of first and second troughs when the two trays are assembled together. The internal surface profile of each conformal cell matches an external surface profile of a chamber component so that movement of the chamber component in its conformal cell is minimized during transportation. At least a portion of the first or second tray is substantially transparent so that a state of each chamber component of the process chamber kit may be observed through the substantially transparent portion.

DRAWINGS

[0010] These and other features, aspects, and advantages of the present invention will be better understood from the following drawings, description and appended claims, which are provided to illustrate exemplary features of the invention and should not be used to limit the invention, where:

[0011] FIG. 1 is an exploded perspective view of a transportation package showing facing first and second trays having troughs that define a set of conformal cells for holding a process chamber kit having different chamber components;

[0012] FIG. 2 is an exploded perspective view of a tray having a sidewall comprising removable panels;

[0013] FIG. 3a is a exploded cross-sectional schematic view of a transportation package comprising a pair of matching trays that define conformal cells which each have an internal surface profile that conforms to an external surface profile of a particular chamber component of a process chamber kit;

[0014] FIG. 3b shows the transportation package of FIG. 3a, after assembly of the trays around the chamber components, evacuation of the air inside through a valve outlet, and input of clean and dry air or inert gas through a valve inlet;

[0015] FIG. 4 is cross-sectional schematic view of a trough having a trough wall with facing resilient dimples, which when compressed, exert an inward force that holds a chamber component in place; and

[0016] FIG. 5 is cross-sectional schematic view of stacked transportation packages showing the stacking tabs and corresponding recesses that fit one another.

DESCRIPTION

[0017] A portable transportation package 20 is useful to transport and store a process chamber kit 22, which has a number of different chamber components 24a-f. The package 20 allows the chamber components 24a-f to be transported directly into a clean room environment without exposure to the environment and without breaking seals. The chamber components 24a-f are parts that are portions of the process chambers, platforms, and gas supplies, which are used in the fabrication of integrated circuits, such as semiconductor wafers, and flat panel displays. The chamber components 24a-f are sensitive to contamination by dust particles, and may sometimes be easily damaged when exposed to the external ambient environment, such as by oxidation from air or corrosion by water vapor.

[0018] Generally, the package 20 comprises a pair of first and second trays 50, 60, which when assembled together, oppose and face each other as shown in FIG. 3b and FIG. 5. The package 20 illustrated herein is only an exemplary embodiment according to the present invention, and should not be used to limit the scope of the invention. The trays 50, 60 are made from a material that is sufficiently rigid to withstand external shocks during transportation, and have a smooth, resilient, and non-granular surface that, unlike foam packaging, does not release individual grains when abraded against the surfaces of the chamber components 24a-f. Preferably, the surface of the trays 50, 60 is continuous, unbroken and non-porous and is absent individual grains that can flake off when receiving a chamber component 24a-f, or in the unpacking of a chamber component 24a-f placed in the trays 50, 60. In one version, for example, the smooth and resilient surface of the trays 50, 60 can have an rms roughness of less than about 10 microinches. The assembled pair of trays 50, 60 serve as a self-standing receptacle to receive a process chamber kit 22 of chamber components 24a-f and can even have built-in handles to transport the chamber components 24a-f directly into a clean room. The assembled pair of trays 50, 60 can also be stored for a period of time in the clean room in a sealed and stable environment, and disassembled only when the chamber components 24a-f are needed for immediate use in a process chamber, thereby further reducing any contamination of the chamber components 24a-f in the trays 50, 60.

[0019] Generally, the first tray 50 comprises a first ledge 52 having a first rim 54 that can be coupled to a corresponding second rim 64 of a second ledge 62 of the second tray 60. The ledges 52, 62 can be planar or angled strips of rigid material that are parallel to one another. The ledges 52, 62 can also be shaped as a frame having a circular, square or rectangular form. The rims 54, 64 are planar and substantially parallel to one another and are integrally formed around the periphery of the trays 50, 60. Each rim 54, 64 has a sufficient width to allow the rims 54, 64 to be joined to one another to form a surface seal. Generally, the rims 54, 64 are smooth and continuous, however, they can also have sealing projections extending therefrom, as described below. Other versions of the rims 54, 64 can also be used, for example, the rims 54, 64 can be slanted or sloped at matching acute and obtuse angles, relative to a central axis or central plane of the chamber components 24a-f carried in the trays 50, 60.

[0020] In the first tray 50, a plurality of first troughs 56a-f extends outwardly and downwardly from the first ledge 52, as shown in FIG. 2. In this version, the first ledge 52 is a rectangular open frame that extends around, or can even surround, the first troughs 56a-f. The first troughs 56a-f are each shaped and sized to have an internal volume that is shaped and sized to conformally accommodate a portion of a process chamber component 24a-f. When the different troughs 56a-f are shaped and sized to accommodate different process chamber components 24a-f, the depressions are longitudinally separated with separator sections 120a-b. For example, a trough 56a can be shaped to have a single depression conforming to the external profile of a portion of a process chamber component 24a received in the trough 56a. The troughs 56a-f can also be shaped to have a plurality of depressions, such as concavities having different radiuses or widths, which are integrated to continuously flow into one another to accommodate different annular diameters of the chamber components 24a-f.

[0021] Similarly, the second tray 60 also has second troughs 66a-f that extend outwardly from the second ledge 64. When the two trays 50, 60 are assembled, as shown in FIG. 3b and FIG. 5, a particular second trough 66a opposingly faces a particular first trough 56a to define a unique cell 92a having an internal surface profile 93a that conforms to an external surface profile 94a of a particular chamber component 24a. Thus, each unique conformal cell 92a-f has an internal volumetric contour that is shaped to hold a predefined chamber component 24a-f securely to minimize lateral or vertical movement of the chamber components 24a-f in the cells 92a-f during transportation, since the contour of the cells 92a-f is closely matched to the contours of the chamber components 24a-f. In this manner, a plurality of conformal cells 92a-f having different internal surface profiles 93a-f are formed by the facing pairs of first and second troughs 56a-f, 66a-f. The internal surface profile 93a-f of each conformal cell 92a-f closely matches an external surface profile 94a-f of a chamber component 24a-f. For example, the internal surface profile 93a of a particular cell 92a can be shaped to closely follow the contour of the external surface profile 94a of a chamber component 24a with a gap of about 5 to about 30 mms between the two surfaces 93a, 94a. However, other gap sizes are also possible, the size of the gap depending on how tightly it is desirable to hold the particular chamber component 24a in the cell 92a.

[0022] For example, the pairs of first and second troughs 56a-f, 66a-f can be shaped, sized, and spaced apart to accommodate a set of chamber components 24a-f that make up a kit 22 of related parts of a process chamber which have a common function or common assembly purpose. For example, the troughs 56a-f, 66a-f may be constructed to hold different chamber components 24a-f that are all part of a process chamber kit assembly 22. One type of process chamber kit 22 contains, for example, different segmented portions of a wall liner to cover up part of an internal chamber wall or different portions of a gas distributor. Another example of a kit 22 is an assembly of concentric rings that are placed around a substrate in a process chamber, such as a shadow ring, outer ring, and pumping plate. Yet another kit 22 may include a focus ring, a chamber sidewall liner, and a substrate clamping ring. Each chamber component 24a-f of the kit 22 fits into a matching conformal cell 92a-f formed by a pair of first and second troughs 56a-f, 66a-f.

[0023] The individual cells 92a-f formed by pairs of matching first and second troughs 56a-f, 66a-f can be separated by the separator sections 120a-e which are sized to maintain a sufficient gap between adjacent cells that the chamber components 24a-f in each cell 92a-f do not contact one another during transportation. The separator sections 120a-e can be shaped and sized so that when the trays 50, 60 are coupled, the cells 92a-f are isolated from each other. However, to facilitate gas evacuation and purging from the cells 92a-f, the separator sections 120a-e can also be shaped and sized to allow gas fluid communication between the cells 92a-f so that the air in the cells 92a-f can be evacuated from a single output that accesses the entire cell assembly, and similarly replaced from a single input. A suitable gap size depends on the size of adjacent chamber components 24a-f, and for example, can be from about 5 mm to about 40 mm. However, other gap sizes can also used, depending on how tightly it is desired to hold a chamber component 24a-f in a cell 92a-f.

[0024] In one version, the second troughs 66a-f of the second tray 60 have substantially the same shape as the first troughs 56a-f of the first tray 50, and they are juxtaposed in mirror relationship to the first troughs 56a-f, when the two trays 50, 60 are joined together. Because they have substantially the same shape, both trays 50, 60 of this version can be more economically fabricated using a single mold having the same cross-sectional profile as described below. Also, this version is particularly useful to carry chamber components 24a-f that have a radial symmetry, such as cylindrical or axially symmetric chamber components 24a-f. By substantially the same shape it is meant the same cross-sectional profile, however, one of the profiles may have additional features, such as a protruding knob or other feature, that is used for other purposes.

[0025] In yet another version, one or more of the first and second troughs 56a-f, 66a-f, have trough walls 178a-b that are shaped to exert an inward mechanical bias force to hold a chamber component 24b at a single or multiple contact points when the chamber component 24b is placed inside the trough 56b. Trough walls 178a-b can have an inwardly extending dimple 180, as shown in FIG. 4, that is compressed when a chamber component 24b is placed inside the trough 56b. As a result, the dimple 180 exert a springy inwardly biased force at the contact point with the chamber component 24b that holds the chamber component 24b firmly inside the trough 56b with the minimum surface are in direct contact with the chamber component 24b. The facing trough walls 178a-b can also have opposing dimples 180a-b to exert counter forces on the chamber component 24b placed in the trough 56b. Other methods of exerting such an inward force may also be used, for example, compliant ring structures, metal springs, spring clamps (none shown) that are mounted on the exterior surface of the trough 56b so as to compress it slightly, and pads of cleanroom-compatible compliant material applied to the interior of the trough 56b at appropriate points. Such a version is advantageous to hold chamber components 24a-f, or a surface of a chamber component 24a-f that is friable or easily damaged when abraded against the internal surface of the trough walls 178a-b during transportation.

[0026] In one version, rigid sidewalls 96a-d are provided to support at least one of the first or second trays 50, 60. The sidewalls 96a-d extend around the tray 50, 60 and have a height that is sufficiently large to extend beyond the depth of any of the troughs 56a-f, 66a-f. The sidewalls 96a-d are also constructed to have a vertical or slanted profile that maintains rigidity during transportation. In one version, the sidewalls 96a-d comprise a substantially planar wall that is perpendicular to the plane of the ledge 52, 62. The planar wall has a surrounding circumferential lip extending inwardly along all four sides of the wall to improve the shearing strength of the sidewall structure. Alternative rigidity enhancing structures, such as cross beams or a pattern of hexagonal units, can also be used to enhance the strength of the sidewalls 96a-d. The sidewalls 96a-d can also be fabricated from a composite material, such as an epoxy resin with other embedded materials to improve structural rigidity.

[0027] In one version, the sidewalls 96a-d comprise a set of removable panels 100a-d. Each removable panel 100a-d can have substantially the same shape, so that the panels 100a-d can be fabricated from a single mold. A suitable set of four panels 100a-d having the same shape is illustrated in FIG. 2. Each panel 100a-d comprises a right-angled lip 101a-d that is recessed from the main sidewall surface of the panel 100a-d, and that fits into a corresponding matching slot 102a-d below the perimeter of a tray 50. A ledge 52 of the tray 50 with outwardly extending troughs 56 is placed over four adjacent sidewall panels 100a-d so that each lip 101a-d of the sidewall panels 100a-d fits into a corresponding slot 102a-d in the lower surface of the ledge 52. A set of screws 103a-l and joining clamps 105a-h can be used to join the panels 100a-d to the ledge 52 or to each other.

[0028] The rim portions 54, 64 of the first and second trays 50, 60 can be coupled together to form a gas tight seal 107 between the trays. The gas tight seal 107 between the two trays 50, 60 allows contamination free transportation of the chamber components 24a-f therein. For example, in one version, the rim 54, 64 of one or more of the trays 50, 60 has a groove 108a-b that can accept a gasket 112a-b, such as an O-ring or other soft polymer seal, as shown in FIG. 3b. A latch 82a-d attached to the first tray 50 and a latch tab 84a-d attached to the second tray 60 allows the two trays 50, 60 to be sealed at the gasket 112a-b between the trays 50, 60 to maintain a gas tight seal 107 therebetween, as shown in FIG. 3b and FIG. 5. The latch 82a-d can be a conventional latch such as a plastic strip having a corrugated flexible hinge portion 122a-d attached to a panel 100a-d of the first tray 50 and having a claw portion 123a-d extending out from the hinge portion 122a-d. In use the claw portion 123a-d is hinged out and forced over the end of a latch tab 84a-d that is attached to the panels 100a-d of the second tray 60. In another version, a series of raised U-shaped bulbuous posts in the rim 64 of the second tray 60 couple to corresponding bell-shaped indentations in rim 54 of the first tray 50 to form a seal therebetween (not shown). In yet another version, the second rim 64 has a circumferential lip that snap fits into a corresponding slot in the first rim 54 to form the seal (also not shown), and after the trays 50, 60 are engaged, they can be released from engagement by pulling apart the two rims 54, 64.

[0029] The gas tight sealed version of the package 20 can also include a first valve 140 to evacuate the sealed set of conformal cells 92, and a second valve 144 to introduce a gas into the evacuated cells 92. For example, the first and second valves 140, 144 can be Schrader valves, which allow the introduction or evacuation of gas when a spring-loaded pin 148 in the center of the valves 140, 144 is displaced. The first valve 140 may be connected to a pump 156 that evacuates the sealed cells, and the second valve 144 may be connected to a gas supply 160 that introduces clean dry air (CDA) or inert gas into the sealed cells. Alternatively, a single valve may also be used for both evacuation and gas purging or filling functions (not shown).

[0030] The opposing portions of the sidewalls 96a-d, or the removable panels 100a-d, can also have one or more pairs of built-in handle cut-outs 98a-d that face each other. The handle cut-outs 98a-d allow an operator to lift and easily transport the package 20 to the cleanroom environment. Such handle cut-outs 98a-d are advantageous because they do not extend out of the assembled package 20, and consequently occupy less cleanroom storage space. The handle cut-outs 98a-d are also more resistant to breakage during transportation. The handle cut-outs 98a-d can also be easily fabricated into the sidewalls 96a-d or removable panels 100a-d without joining additional parts to the trays 50, 60. However, external handles may also be affixed onto the sidewalls 96a-d or removable panels 100a-d, or the other surfaces of the trays 50, 60 (not shown).

[0031] In use, one of the trays 50, 60 is selected as a lower or base tray, for example, the first tray 50, and is placed on a work surface. Each chamber component 24a-f is inserted upright into one of the open troughs 56a-f of the lower tray 50. After filling the tray 50, the other tray 60 is used as the upper or cover tray and fitted over the portions of the chamber components 24a-f that extend out of the troughs 56a-f of the lower tray 50. The latches 82a-d are then engaged to the latch tabs 84a-d to lock the upper tray 60 onto the lower tray 50. Each chamber component 24a-f is now captured within a cell 92a-f that is tailored to conformally fit a particular chamber component 24a-f, and is isolated from the other chamber components 24a-f. Moreover, because the chamber components 24a-f are all contained in a single package 20, it is easier for a distributor or customer to locate the entire kit of parts. Furthermore, when the rigid trays 50, 60 are at least partially made of a substantially transparent polymer material, it is easier to identify the chamber components 24a-f within the package 20, as those corresponding to a particular kit 22.

[0032] The rigid trays 50, 60 can be fabricated from a number of different materials that provide the desired rigidity for transportation, i.e., the material is sufficiently rigid to absorb shock without fracturing when it is formed into trays 50, 60 and chamber components 24a-f are placed in the trays 50, 60. The rigid material of the trays 50, 60 should have a tensile modulus of elasticity of at least about 1800 Mpa when measured under ISO 527, for example, at a rate of 1 mm/min.

[0033] Preferably, at least a portion of the trays 50, 60, or the entire trays 50, 60 are made from a rigid material that is also substantially transparent to allow visual examination of the chamber components 24a-f held inside the trays 50, 60. Substantially transparent means it is translucent or transparent to visible light. For example, a suitably transparent material can have a visible light transmission percentage of at least about 80%. The first or second troughs 56a-f, 66a-f of the assembled trays 50, 60 can also be surface polished to enhance the clarity of transmitted light and views. The transparent portions allow a clean room operator to visually detect or examine the contents of the trays 50-60 without breaking open the seals. For example, in one version, only one or more of the first or second troughs 56a-f, 66a-f are made from the substantially transparent material, however, the entire of both trays 50, 60 can also be made from the substantially transparent material.

[0034] The substantially transparent portions also allow identification labels, or component bar codes, to be stuck on the inside of the trays and still be visible from the outside. This prevents damage to the label during transportation or storage. Also, the rigid surface of the trays allows conventional labels to be easily stuck on the trays, without machining recesses or special epoxy glues, as required in clean room foam products.

[0035] A suitable substantially transparent rigid material is a heat setting thermoplastic polymer, such as a high density polyethylene, for example polymers that are based on polyethylene terephthalate (PET), glycol-modified PET (PETG), oriented PET (O-PET), or polyethylene naphthalate (PEN), or blends thereof with each other or with other resins. Preferably, the transparent rigid material is a moldable thermoplastic that softens when heated to form to a mold shape, such as polyethylene terephthalate Glycol (PETG), such as PAL_G sheet fabricated by Palram, Ramat Yohanan, Israel. The rigid trays 50, 60 can be molded as a single integral piece using conventional plastic molding techniques from a single blank sheet of thermoplastic material. The blank sheet can be thermoformed into heat-set, thin walled trays utilizing conventional thermoforming methods and equipment such as vacuum assist, air assist, mechanical plug assist or matched mold.

[0036] In one method of fabricating the trays 50, 60, a thermoplastic sheet is placed over a male or female mold of the tray and heated until it softens into the mold. The preheated thermoplastic sheet is drawn into the mold, which may also be heated, by the application of pressure using an opposing matched mold shape or by evacuating the sheet from below the mold. For example, if the sheet is heated and allowed to soften into a female mold, a male mold can be used to apply a conformal opposing pressure on the other side of the heated sheet, and the male mold can be gradually cooled to room temperatures serving as a secondary cooling mold. The thermoplastic sheet is heat-set by maintaining contact against the heated mold surfaces for a sufficient time period to fully conform to the mold profile, gradually cooling the formed sheet to room temperatures, and then removing the tray preform out of the mold cavity. A vacuum may also be applied through the mold(s) to draw out any trapped air. The tray preform can then be trimmed or otherwise formed to add handle cut-outs 98a-d and other projections and shapes to form a locking tab and other features. The sheet must be heated above its Tg (glass transition temperature) and below the point at which it sags excessively during positioning over the mold cavity. In the thermoforming process, a sheet temperature within the range of about 120° C. to about 240° C. is suitable. The mold can be made from wood, resins, or a metal such as aluminum, or even steel. For fabricating small quantities of trays 50, 60, soft materials such as wood can be used.

[0037] Instead of a single ply sheet, a multi-ply sheet can also be used. The multi-ply sheet can also include a first ply composed of a thermoplastic polymer, such as PETG and a second ply composed of a composite material, such as a fiberglass epoxy sheet. Also, the trays 50, 60 can be fabricated such that a portion, for example, of the troughs 56, 66 is fabricated from the substantially transparent material, whereas, other portions such as the sidewalls 96a-d or removable panels 100a-d are fabricated from a more rigid or stronger material, such as a sheet of fiberglass strands embedded in epoxy resin.

[0038] In an alternative embodiment, the trays 50, 60 or a portion of the trays 50, 60 is fabricated from metal, such as aluminum or steel. However, this embodiment does not allow see through of the state of the chamber components 24a-f post shipping, or the inspection of labels placed inside the trays 50, 60. Thus, the trays 50, 60 could be fabricated to have both non-transparent portions, such as a non-transparent ledge 52, 62 that is joined to a substantially transparent trough 56a-f, 66a-f, so that the chamber components 24a-f inside the troughs 56a-f, 66a-f are still visible through the transparent walls of the troughs 56a-f, 66a-f.

[0039] In yet another embodiment, a portion of the trays 50, 60 is colored according to a color selected from a color code table that lists different colors and corresponding kit 22 or part numbers of the chamber component 24a-f. For example, the substantially transparent portion of the trays 50, 60 may be colored, or another portion of the trays 50, 60 such as an opaque portion may be colored. The colors can include any visible wavelength from the color spectrum and include white or black. The color code table lists individual colors associated with a corresponding process chamber kit 22, chamber component 24a-f, or process application. For example, the table can list the color blue associated with aluminum etching chamber process kits and yellow or orange for copper chamber kits. Such color-coding allows a clean room operator to easily distinguish and properly identify the spare parts used for a particular chamber or application. As a result, the seal of the package 20 does not have to be broken to inspect the chamber components 24a-f to determine their function, and the integrity of the chamber components 24a-f can be preserved for a longer time.

[0040] The list of the color code table can also associate different colors for process chamber kits 22 that have identical chamber components 24a-f but which have been used in different process applications, which, for example, are mutually incompatible. For example, both aluminum and copper interconnect fabrication processes use process chamber kits 22 comprising essentially the same chamber components 24a-f. However, once such a process chamber kit 22 has been used in a first type of process chamber performing a first process application, it can no longer be used in a second type of process chamber serving another process application because it may contaminant the second process chamber. This situation commonly arises when a kit 22 of chamber components 24a-f that have been used in one process chamber, such as a chamber for aluminum deposition or etching, are sent to the fabricator for cleaning or refurbishment. After the chamber components 24a-f have been cleaned or refurbished, they are sent back to the customer. At that time, the package 20 for the chamber components 24a-f is color coded to indicate the prior aluminum application, so that the chamber components 24a-f are not accidentally used in a copper deposition or etching chamber or process.

[0041] The package 20 can also have stacking tabs 170 and corresponding recesses 174 that fit one another so that more than one package 20 can be stacked up in a column in a clean room. For example, the top surface of a first tray 50 of a first package 20 can have four tabs 170 that are located at the four corners of the surface, and the corresponding recesses 174 at bottom surface of the second tray 60, as shown in FIG. 5. When the first package 20 is stacked over a second package 22, the four tabs 170 of the second package 21 fit into the corresponding recesses 174 in the bottom surface of the first package 20. This tab and recess fitting allows the stacked packages 20, 21 to fit into one another so that they are not unstable when stored in the clean room.

[0042] Accordingly, the present invention provides a transportation package 20 that allows transportation of process chamber components 24a-f, such as a kit of components 22, from the fabricator or distribution center right into the customer clean room. The package 20 is reusable because the rigid impermeable tray surface can be easily cleaned. The trays 50,60 minimize contamination by having a smooth surface that is free of granular particles that can easily be abraded off. Also, each conformal cell 92a-f of the conformal package 20 can be used to retain a particular chamber component 24a-f of a process chamber kit 22, and is conformal to the shape of the chamber component 24a-f to minimize breakage during transportation. In addition, the transparent portion of the cells 92a-f allow visual examination of the contents of the package 20, and inspection of each chamber component 24a-f without breaking open seals and contaminating the articles.

[0043] Although the present invention has been described in considerable detail with regard to the preferred versions thereof, other versions are possible. For example, the cells 92a-f can be merged together to form a continuous volume having different radial sections to allow transportation of a single chamber component having a complex external surface topography. In addition, the shape of the individual cells 92a-f can be tailored for other purposes, for example, their external profile, which is not in contact with the component part can be shaped to mate with a correspondingly shaped recess in a shipping container. Therefore, the appended claims should not be limited to the description of the preferred versions contained herein.

Claims

1. A clean room transportation package for a process chamber kit that has a plurality of differently shaped chamber components, the package comprising:

(a) a first rigid tray having:
a first ledge having a first rim; and
a plurality of first troughs extending outwardly from the first ledge;
(b) a second rigid tray that is detachable from the first tray, the second tray having:
a second ledge having a second rim that couples with the first rim of the first ledge to form a seal therebetween; and
a plurality of second troughs extending outwardly from the second ledge,
wherein a plurality of conformal cells having different internal surface profiles are formed by facing pairs of first and second troughs, the internal surface profile of each conformal cell matching an external surface profile of a chamber component so that movement of the chamber component in its conformal cell is minimized during transportation, and
wherein at least a portion of the first or second tray is substantially transparent so that a state of each chamber component of the process chamber kit may be observed through the substantially transparent portion.

2. A transportation package according to claim 1 wherein the facing first and second troughs have substantially the same internal surface profile and are juxtaposed in mirror relationship to each other.

3. A transportation package according to claim 1 wherein at least one of the first or second trays comprises a rigid sidewall having a height larger than the depth of any of the conformal cells.

4. A transportation package according to claim 3 wherein opposing portions of a sidewall each comprise a handle cut-out.

5. A transportation package according to claim 4 wherein the sidewalls comprise a set of removable panels that can be coupled together.

6. A transportation package according to claim 1 wherein at least one first trough or second trough has a trough wall that is shaped to exert an inward mechanical bias force to hold a chamber component at a contact point when the component is placed inside the trough.

7. A transportation package according to claim 1 comprising a groove in the rim of at least one of the first or second trays, and a gasket seal within the groove, to form a gas tight seal between the first and second trays.

8. A transportation package according to claim 1 comprising a latch and a latch tab to lock together the first and second trays.

9. A transportation package according to claim 1 wherein at least a portion of the first or second tray is colored according to a color selected from a color code table that having a list of colors and associated process chamber kits.

10. A transportation package according to claim 9 wherein the list of the color code table associates different colors for process chamber kits having identical chamber components but which have been, or will be, used in different processes.

11. A transportation package according to claim 9 wherein the substantially transparent portion is colored.

12. A clean room transportation package for a process chamber kit that has a plurality of differently shaped chamber components, the package comprising:

(a) a first rigid and substantially transparent tray having:
a first frame having a first rim; and
a plurality of first troughs extending outwardly from the first frame;
(b) a second rigid and substantially transparent tray that is detachable from the first tray, the second tray having:
a second frame comprising having a second rim; and
a plurality of second troughs extending outwardly from the second frame, the second troughs having substantially the same internal surface profile as the first troughs;
(c) a gasket seal in a groove in the first or second frames; and
(d) a latch on the first tray and a latch tab on the second tray,
wherein when the first and second trays are coupled together and the latch is closed over the latch tab, a gas tight seal is formed between the two trays;
wherein a plurality of conformal cells having different internal surface profiles are formed by facing pairs of first and second troughs, the internal surface profile of each conformal cell matching an external surface profile of a chamber component so that movement of the chamber component in its conformal cell is minimized during transportation, and
wherein the substantially transparent first or second trays allow a state of each chamber component of the process chamber kit to be observed therethrough.

13. A transportation package according to claim 12 wherein at least one of the first or second trays comprises a rigid sidewall having a height larger than the depth of any of the conformal cells, the sidewall comprising a set of removable panels that are coupled together.

14. A transportation package according to claim 13 wherein opposing portions of a sidewall each comprise a handle cut-out.

15. A transportation package according to claim 12 wherein at least one first trough or second trough has a trough wall that is shaped to exert an inward mechanical bias force to hold a chamber component at a contact point when the component is placed inside the trough.

16. A transportation package according to claim 12 wherein at least a portion of the first or second trays is colored according to a color selected from a color code table that having a list of colors and associated process chamber kits.

Patent History

Publication number: 20040262187
Type: Application
Filed: Jun 26, 2003
Publication Date: Dec 30, 2004
Applicant: Applied Materials, Inc.
Inventor: Ronald Vern Schauer (Gilroy, CA)
Application Number: 10609138

Classifications

Current U.S. Class: Shock Protection Type (e.g., Free Fall) (206/521); For A Household Appliance (206/320)
International Classification: B65D085/30;