SYSTEM FOR MEGASONIC PROCESSING OF AN ARTICLE
A system for megasonic processing of an article. In one aspect, the system for megasonic processing comprises a rotary support for supporting an article, a dispenser for applying a fluid to a surface of an article positioned on the rotary support; and a transducer assembly. The transducer assembly comprises (i) a transmitter positioned adjacent to the article on the rotary support so that when the fluid is applied to the surface of the article via the dispenser, a meniscus of the fluid is formed between a portion of the transmitter and the surface of the article and (ii) not more than one transducer coupled to the transmitter, the transducer adapted to oscillate at a frequency for propagating megasonic energy through the transmitter and into the meniscus of the fluid.
This application is a continuation of U.S. application Ser. No. 11/839,885, filed Aug. 16, 2007, which is a continuation of U.S. application Ser. No. 11/375,907, filed Mar. 15, 2006, which is a continuation of U.S. application Ser. No. 10/726,774, filed Dec. 3, 2003, now U.S. Pat. No. 7,117,876, issued Oct. 10, 2006, which is a divisional of U.S. application Ser. No. 10/243,463, filed Sep. 12, 2002, now U.S. Pat. No. 6,681,782, issued Jan. 27, 2004, which is a continuation of U.S. application Ser. No. 09/953,504, filed Sep. 13, 2001, now U.S. Pat. No. 6,463,938, issued Oct. 15, 2002, which is a continuation of U.S. application Ser. No. 09/643,328, filed Aug. 22, 2000, now U.S. Pat. No. 6,295,999, issued Oct. 2, 2001, which is a continuation of U.S. application Ser. No. 09/057,182, filed Apr. 8, 1998, now U.S. Pat. No. 6,140,744, issued Oct. 31, 2000, which is a continuation-in-part of U.S. application Ser. No. 08/724,518, filed Sep. 30, 1996, now U.S. Pat. No. 6,039,059, issued Mar. 21, 2000.FIELD OF THE INVENTION
This invention relates to a system for megasonic processing of an article requiring high levels of cleanliness.BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
Semiconductor wafers are frequently cleaned in cleaning solution into which megasonic energy is propagated. Megasonic cleaning systems, which operate at a frequency over twenty times higher than ultrasonic, safely and effectively remove particles from materials without the negative side effects associated with ultrasonic cleaning.
Megasonic energy cleaning apparatuses typically comprise a piezoelectric transducer coupled to a transmitter. The transducer is electrically excited such that it vibrates, and the transmitter transmits high frequency energy into liquid in a processing tank. The agitation of the cleaning fluid produced by the megasonic energy loosens particles on the semiconductor wafers. Contaminants are thus vibrated away from the surfaces of the wafer. In one arrangement, fluid enters the wet processing container from the bottom of the tank and overflows the container at the top. Contaminants may thus be removed from the tank through the overflow of the fluid and by quickly dumping the fluid.
A gas impingement and suction cleaning process for electrostatographic reproducing apparatuses which utilizes ultrasonic energy and air under pressure is disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 4,111,546, issued to Maret.
A process for cleaning by cavitation in liquefied gas is disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 5,316,591, issued to Chao et al. Undesired material is removed from a substrate by introducing a liquefied gas into a cleaning chamber and exposing the liquefied gas to cavitation-producing means. The shape of the horn to provide the cavitation is not disclosed in detail and does not concentrate the sonic agitation to a particular location within the cleaning vessel.
In U.S. Pat. No. 4,537,511, issued to Frei, an elongated metal tube in a tank of cleaning fluid is energized in the longitudinal wave mode by a transducer that extends through a wall of the tank and is attached to the end of the tube. In order to compensate for relatively high internal losses, the radiating arrangement uses a relatively thin-walled tubular member.
A need exists for an improved apparatus and method which can be used to clean semiconductor wafers.SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
The above-referenced parent patent applications claim various forms of the invention. The present application is directed to additional embodiments of the invention.
It is therefore an object of the present invention to provide a system for megasonic processing.
It is therefore another object of the present invention to provide a system for megasonic processing of an article requiring extremely high levels of cleanliness.
These and other objects are met by the present invention, which in one aspect is a system for megasonic processing of an article comprising: a rotary support for supporting an article; a dispenser for applying a fluid to a surface of an article positioned on the support; and a transducer assembly comprising (i) a transmitter positioned adjacent to the article on the rotary support so that when the fluid is applied to the surface of the article via the dispenser, a meniscus of the fluid is formed between a portion of the transmitter and the surface of the article and (ii) not more than one transducer coupled to the transmitter, the transducer adapted to oscillate at a frequency for propagating megasonic energy through the transmitter and into the meniscus of the fluid.
The housing supports an inlet conduit 124 and an outlet conduit 122 for coolant and has an opening 152 for electrical connectors. The housing is closed by an annular plate 118 with an opening 132 for the probe. The plate in turn is attached to the tank.
Within the processing tank 101, a support or susceptor 108 is positioned parallel to and in close proximity to the probe 104. The susceptor 108 may take various forms, the arrangement illustrated including an outer rim 108a supported by a plurality of spokes 108b connected to a hub 108c supported on a shaft 110, which extends through a bottom wall of the processing tank 101. Outside the tank 101, the shaft 110 is connected to a motor 112.
The elongated probe 104 is preferably made of a relatively inert, non-contaminating material, such as quartz, which efficiently transmits acoustic energy. While utilizing a quartz probe is satisfactory for most cleaning solutions, solutions containing hydrofluoric acid can etch quartz. Thus, a probe made of sapphire silicon carbide, boron nitride, vitreous carbon, glassy carbon coated graphite, or other suitable materials may be employed instead of quartz. Also, quartz may be coated by a material that can withstand HF such as silicon carbide or vitreous carbon.
The probe 104 comprises a solid, elongated, constant cross-section spindle-like or rod-like cleaning portion 104a, and a base or rear portion 104b. The cross-section of the probe is preferably round and advantageously, the diameter of the cleaning portion 104a of the probe 104 is smaller in diameter than the rear portion 104b of the probe 104. The tip of cleaning portion 104a terminates in a tip face/surface 104c. In a prototype arrangement the area of the rear face of the rear portion 104b is 25 times that of the tip face 104c of portion 104a. Of course, cross-sectional shapes other than circular may be employed.
A cylindrically-shaped rod portion 104a having a small diameter is desirable to concentrate the megasonic energy along the length of the rod 104a. The diameter of the probe, however, should be sufficient to withstand mechanical vibration produced by the megasonic energy transmitted by the probe. Preferably, the radius of the rod portion 104b should be equal to or smaller than the wavelength of the frequency of the energy applied to it. This structure produces a desired standing surface wave action which directs energy radially into liquid contacting the rod. In a prototype, the radius of the cylindrical portion of the probe contained within the tank was approximately 0.2 of an inch and operated at a wave length of about 0.28 of an inch. This produced 3 to 4 wave lengths per inch along the rod length and has provided good results.
The probe cleaning portion 104a should be long enough so that the entire surface area of the wafer is exposed to the probe during wafer cleaning. In a preferred embodiment, because the wafer is rotated beneath the probe, the length of the cleaning portion 104b should be long enough to reach at least the center of the wafer. Therefore, as the wafer is rotated beneath the probe, the entire surface area of the wafer is close to the probe. Actually, the probe could probably function satisfactorily even if it does not reach the center of the wafer since megasonic vibration from the probe tip would provide some agitation towards the wafer center.
The length of the probe is also determined by a predetermined number of wavelengths usually in increments of half wavelengths of the energy applied to the probe. In one embodiment, the length of the probe cleaning portion 104a equals nineteen wavelengths of the applied energy. Due to variations in transducers, it is necessary to tune the transducer to obtain the desired wavelength, so that it works at its most efficient point.
The rear probe portion 104b, which is positioned exterior the tank, flares to a diameter larger than the diameter of the cleaning portion 104a. In a first embodiment of the present invention, shown in
As illustrated in
The probe base 104d is acoustically coupled to a heat transfer member 134 and is physically supported by that member. The probe end face is preferably bonded or glued to the support by a suitable adhesive material. In addition to the bonding material, a thin metal screen 141, shown in
As another alternative, the screen 141 may be made of a berylium copper, only about 0.001 inch thick, made by various companies using chemical milling-processes. One available screen holes for confining the resin that are larger than that of the Delkar.
The heat transfer member 134 is made of aluminum, or some other good conductor of heat and megasonic energy. In the arrangement illustrated, the heat transfer member is cylindrical and has an annular groove 136, which serves as a coolant duct large enough to provide an adequate amount of coolant to suitably cool the apparatus. Smaller annular grooves 138, 139 on both sides of the coolant groove 136 are fitted with suitable seals, such as O-rings 135, 137 to isolate the coolant and prevent it from interfering with the electrical connections to the transducer 140.
The transducer 140 is bonded, glued, or otherwise acoustically coupled to the rear flat surface of the heat transfer member 134. A suitable bonding material is that identified as ECF 550, available from Ablestick of Gardena, Calif. The transducer 140 is preferably disc shaped and has a diameter larger than the diameter of the rear end of the probe section 104d to maximize transfer of acoustic energy from the transducer to the probe. The heat transfer member is preferably gold-plated to prevent oxidizing of the aluminum and, hence, provide better bonding to the transducer and the probe. The member 134 should have an axial thickness that is approximately equal to an even number of wave lengths or half wave lengths of the energy to be applied to the probe.
The transducer 140 and the heat transfer member 134 are both contained within the housing 120 that is preferably cylindrical in shape. The heat transfer member is captured within an annular recess 133 in an inner wall of the housing 120.
The housing is preferably made of aluminum to facilitate heat transfer to the coolant. The housing has openings 144 and 146 for the outlet 122 and the inlet conduit 124 for the liquid coolant. On its closed end, the housing 134 has an opening 152 for the electrical connections 126 and 154. Openings 148, 150 allow a gaseous purge to enter and exit the housing 120.
An open end of the housing 120 is attached to the annular plate 118 having the central opening 132 through which extends the probe rear section 104d. The annular plate has an outer diameter extending beyond the housing 120 and has a plurality of holes organized in two rings through an inner ring of holes 131, a plurality of connectors 128, such as screws, extend to attach the plate 118 to the housing 120. The annular plate 118 is mounted to the tank wall 100 by a plurality of threaded fasteners 117 that extend through the outer ring of plate holes 130 and thread into the tank wall 100. The fasteners also extend through sleeves or spacers 116 that space the plate 118 from the tank wall. The spacers position the transducer and flared rear portion 104b of the probe outside the tank so that only the cleaning portion of the probe and the probe tip extend into the tank. Also, the spacers isolate the plate 118 and the housing from the tank somewhat, so that vibration from the heat transfer member, the housing and the plate to the wall is minimized.
The processing tank 101 is made of material that does not contaminate the wafer. The tank should have an inlet (not shown) for introducing fluid into the tank and an outlet (not shown) to carry away particles removed from the article.
As the size of semiconductor wafers increases, rather than cleaning a cassette of wafers at once, it is more practical and less expensive to use a cleaning apparatus and method that cleans a single wafer at a time. Advantageously, the size of the probe of the present invention may vary in length depending on the size of the wafer to be cleaned.
A semiconductor wafer 106 or other article to be cleaned is placed on the support 108 within the tank 101. The wafer is positioned sufficiently close to the probe so that the agitation of the fluid between the probe and the wafer loosens particles on the surface of the wafer. Preferably, the distance between the probe and surface of the wafer is no greater than about 0.1 of an inch.
The motor 112 rotates the support 108 beneath the probe 104 so that the entire upper surface of the article is sufficiently close to the vibrating probe 104 to remove particles from the surface of the article. To obtain the necessary relative movement between the probe and the wafer 106, an arrangement could be provided wherein the wafer is moved transversely beneath the probe. Also, an arrangement could be provided wherein the support 108 remains in place while a probe moves above the surface of the wafer 106.
When the piezoelectric transducer 140 is electrically excited, it vibrates at a high frequency. Preferably the transducer is energized at megasonic frequencies with the desired wattage consistent with the probe size length and work to be performed. The vibration is transmitted through the heat transfer member 134 and to the elongated probe 104. The probe 104 then transmits the high frequency energy into cleaning fluid between the probe and the wafer. One of the significant advantages of the arrangement is that the large rear portion of the probe can accommodate a large transducer, and the smaller forward probe portion concentrates the megasonic vibration into a small area so as to maximize particle loosening capability. Sufficient fluid substance between the probe and the wafer will effectively transmit the energy across the small gap between the probe and the wafer to produce the desired cleaning. As the surface area of the wafer 106 comes within close proximity to the probe 104, the agitation of the fluid between the probe 104 and the wafer 106 loosens particles on the semiconductor wafer 106. Contaminants are thus vibrated away from the surfaces of the wafer 106. The loosened particles may be carried away by a continued flow of fluid.
Applying significant wattage to the transducer 140 generates considerable heat, which could present damage to the transducer 140. Therefore, coolant is pumped through the housing 120 to cool the member 134 and, hence, the transducer.
A first coolant, preferably a liquid such as water, is introduced into one side of the housing 120, circulates around the heat transfer member 134 and exits the opposite end of the housing 120. Because the heat transfer member 134 is made of a good thermal conductor, significant quantities of heat may be easily conducted away by the liquid coolant. The rate of cooling can, of course, be readily monitored by changing the flow rate and/or temperature of the coolant.
A second, optional coolant circulates over the transducer by entering and exiting the housing 120 through openings 148, 150 on the closed end of the housing. Due to the presence of the transducer 140 and the electrical wiring 142, 154, an inert gas such as nitrogen is used as a coolant or as a purging gas in this portion of the housing.
An alternative arrangement for coupling the probe end 104b to the member 134 is illustrated in
An arrangement is illustrated in
In use, deionized water or other cleaning solution is sprayed onto the upper surface of the wafer from a nozzle 214 while the probe 104 is being acoustically energized. The liquid creates a meniscus 115 between the lower portion of the probe and the adjacent upper surface of the rotating wafer. This is schematically illustrated in
The probe assembly may be conveniently mounted on a suitable support, schematically illustrated at 216. The support is capable of pivoting the assembly upwardly, as indicated by the arrow in
Various fluids may be employed as the spray applied to the wafer in
Because some megasonic energy will be transmitted through the end of the probe with the probe tip immersed in the liquid, a small cap 306 is positioned on the tip of the probe with the cap containing an air space 308 between two glass walls 306a and 306b, as shown in
As mentioned above, the preferred form of the probe assembly includes a probe made of inert material such as quartz and a heat transfer member coupled to the rear of the probe made of a good heat conducting material such as aluminum. Since it is the cylindrical portion of the probe which is in contact with the cleaning fluid and is positioned adjacent the wafer, an alternative arrangement could be devised wherein a forward portion, such as section 104a in
In the other direction, there may be some applications in which it is not necessary to employ quartz or other such inert material for the probe. Instead, the entire probe could be made of aluminum or other such material. In that situation, the heat transfer member could then be made as a one-piece unit with the probe. Also, with a metal probe it may be practical to spray the cleaning fluid through the probe itself. For example in the arrangement of
The embodiment of
Positioned within the cup-shaped housing 520 is an annular heat transfer member 534 which has an external diameter sized to fit snugly within the housing 520. An annular groove 536 in the exterior of the heat transfer member 534, creates a liquid cooling channel in combination with the inner surface of the housing 520. A pair of O-rings 537 that fit within annular grooves in the heat transfer member seal the coolant channel 536 so that the remainder of the interior of the housing is sealed from the liquid. This prevents interference with the electrical energy being supplied to the transducer. Further, transducer vibration energy is not dissipated into the interior of the housing, but instead is transmitted into the housing end wall 520a and into the probe 504. The heat transfer member 534 is axially captured within the housing by means of an annular shoulder 520d and by a housing end plate 560. A plurality of fasteners 528 connect the plate 560 to the housing. A liquid coolant inlet 562a is mounted in an opening in the end plate 560 and threads into a passage 519 in the heat transfer member that extends axially and then radially into the annular channel 536. A similar outlet fitting 562b mounts in the end plate 560 diametrically opposed from the 562a fitting, and threads into another passage 519 that extends axially and radially into the channel 536.
A plurality of axially extending bores 563 are also formed in the heat transfer member 534, aligned with gas inlets 561a, b formed in the plate 560. The inlets 561a, b and bores 563 are shown in the same plane with the passages 519 for convenience. In actual practice, the bores 563 would preferably not be in the same plane as the passages 519, and instead would be circumferentially offset, and could also be formed in the same circle around the center of the heat transfer member 534. The inlets 561a, b through the end plate 560 for the fittings 562a and 562b would likewise be moved to be aligned with the passages 563.
The electrical connection for the transducer 540 is illustrated by the wire 554, although the more complete connection would be as shown in
In operation, there are a number of advantages to the embodiment illustrated in
By making the housing 520 of aluminum or other material which is a relatively good thermal energy conductor, the heat generated by the transducer can be readily dissipated with the arrangement of
Similarly, cooling gas such as nitrogen can be connected to one or more of the bores 563 in the heat transfer member and into the central area of the housing. The gas is exhausted through one of the bores 563 leading to a second outlet 561b. Two passages 563 are illustrated in
The assembly illustrated in
The arrangement of
As seen in
A piezoelectric transducer 640 is acoustically coupled to one side of the central wall 634b, such as in the same manner discussed above in connection with the other embodiments. A probe 604 is acoustically coupled to the other side of the central wall 634b. Again, this may be done in various ways, such as the screen and grease technique discussed above. An O-ring 621 surrounds the base of the probe and is compressed against the probe and the central wall 634b by a cylindrical portion of an end member 619 having a flange attached to the end of the housing 620. The O-ring confines the coupling grease and helps center the probe 604. The probe is pressed against the central wall 634b by a spring 643 compressed between an annular spring retainer plate 618 and the probe 604.
The housing and heat transfer member illustrated in
The base 605 can have a frusto-conical configuration just as the rear portion of the probe in
A primary purpose of having a probe made of two different portions is that one portion can be made of a different material from the other. For example, the base 605 can be utilized in any cleaning operation since it does not contact the cleaning solution; however, the rod 606 must be compatible with the cleaning solution. Thus, if the cleaning solution is compatible with quartz, a one-piece arrangement such as that illustrated in
As mentioned above, the arrangement of
1. A system for megasonic processing of an article comprising:
- a rotary support for supporting an article;
- a dispenser for applying a fluid to a surface of an article positioned on the rotary support; and
- a transducer assembly comprising (i) a transmitter positioned adjacent to the article on the rotary support so that when the fluid is applied to the surface of the article via the dispenser, a meniscus of the fluid is formed between a portion of the transmitter and the surface of the article and (ii) not more than one transducer coupled to the transmitter, the transducer adapted to oscillate at a frequency for propagating megasonic energy through the transmitter and into the meniscus of the fluid.
Filed: Mar 6, 2009
Publication Date: Jul 2, 2009
Inventor: Mario E. Bran (Garden Grove, CA)
Application Number: 12/399,185
International Classification: B08B 13/00 (20060101);