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1. WO2009079636 - PROCÉDÉS ET APPAREILS POUR RÉDUIRE LA CONTAMINATION DE SUBSTRATS

Note: Texte fondé sur des processus automatiques de reconnaissance optique de caractères. Seule la version PDF a une valeur juridique

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METHODS AND APPARATUSES FOR CONTROLLING
CONTAMINATION OF SUBSTRATES

Related Application
The present application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Application No.

61/014,709 filed December 18, 2007, which is incorporated herein in its entirety by reference.
Field of the Invention
This invention relates to substrate containers and maintaining dryness and minimizing contamination within the interior of such containers.
Background of the Invention
It has been realized that moisture within the polymer walls of reticle pod or wafer containers, as well as moisture permeating through the polymer walls, is a source of contamination of substrates contained in such containers,
During transportation, storage, or pauses in subsequent manufacturing processes, semiconductor wafers which are stored in special containers, such as SMIF pods (acronym for standardized mechanical interface), and FOUPs (acronym for front opening unified pod). Depending on a number of factors such as size of production run and cycle time, wafers may sit in such containers for a substantial time between processing steps. During this time processed wafers are affected by ambient moisture, oxygen and other AMCs ("airborne molecular contaminants") detrimental to production yield.
For instance, moisture can cause uncontrolled native oxide growth, formation of haze and corrosion, whereas oxygen is known to affect Cu-interconnect reliability. Experimental data and computational studies have shown that closed FOUPs, with wafers inside can be effectively purged with a continuous flow of nitrogen through an inlet port on the lower base of the shell or the FOUP's door. It is known that a gentle flow of nitrogen at about 4 liters per minute provides for significant reduction of the oxygen and moisture level inside a loaded FOUP, down to -1 % RH and 1 % of O2 in just in 4 to 5 minutes. Experimental data shows also that termination of the nitrogen purge flow can cause very rapid, within minutes, increase of moisture concentration, levels greater than 1 % inside the FOUP. This effect is believed to be caused by moisture permeation through the walls of the FOUP and by moisture desorption from the polycarbonate walls of the FOUP.
A better system and process is needed to better protect substrates, for example wafers, against ambient moisture and oxygen.
Summary of the Invention
In certain embodiments, a double purge of loaded substrate containers, for example FOUPs, during their storage and intrabay transportation such as with the aid of PGV (personal guided vehicle) is provided. The double purge may includes a flow of clean dry air ("CDA"), or other purge gas directed or confined to the outside of the substrate container which prevents or minimizes permeation of moisture into the substrate container and effects progressive drying of the polymer confinement walls which may be, for example, polycarbonate. Conventional interior purging, such as by nitrogen, of the interior of the FOUP will prevent oxygen build-up and provides drying of the confinement walls from the interior.
Partition walls or shrouds inside the storage stockers for the substrate containers will ensure effective circulation of CDA. Similar shrouds and partition walls inside intra bay mini-storages and enclosures on purge stations will provide effective CDA usage also. PGVs equipped with re-chargeable low-pressure vessels filled with CDA and N2 may provide double purging for FOUPs in transit.
In embodiments of the invention, a system for maintaining an extremely dry environment within substrate containers formed of polymers provides supplemental exterior gas washing of the substrate container exterior to minimize permeation of moisture and oxygen through the polymer walls of the container and to further provide for desorption of water entrapped in the polymer walls of the container.
Specific shrouds and/or purge gas directing plates can be provided downstream from discharge nozzles as part of stockers to control and contain the exterior purge. Shrouds and double walls may be provided to wafer container to provide a confined pathway for the exterior purge gas wash.
A feature and advantage of the invention in certain embodiments provides a substrate container with a wall cavity to provide an inner wall with exterior purge capabilities for an outwardly facing surface of said inner wall. Said wall cavity may be substantially closed with a restricted inlet area, for example, less than 1 square inch. Also the outlet area may be restricted, for example, less than one square inch, The inlet and outlet may have a further restriction member in the inlet and/or outlet, for example a check valve or filter. A feature and advantage of the invention in certain embodiments provides a stocker with substrate container shroud not fixed to the wafer container providing a gap of about .25 inch to about two inches from the exterior surface of the wafer container,
A feature and advantage of the invention in certain embodiments provides a substrate container that has in interior containment wall with an exterior shroud fixedly attached to the wafer container providing a gap of about .25 inch to about two inches from the exterior surface and creating a cavity between the fixedly attached shroud and the of the interior containment wall whereby a exterior purging gas can be provided to the cavity. In an embodiment, the gap is less than 2 inches for the majority of the inside surface of the shroud.
A feature and advantage of certain embodiments of the invention is a method of modifying substrate containers by adding exterior shroud pieces to the substrate container to provide a cavity between an exteriorly facing surface of a containment wall of the substrate container and the shroud wherein an exterior purging gas may be provided thereto.
A feature and advantage of certain embodiments of the invention provides a purging outlet from a substrate container wherein purging gas that is circulated within the interior of the substrate container is redirected after the purging gas leaves the interior to wash the exterior surface of the substrate container.
A feature and advantage of certain embodiments of the invention provides a substrate container with deflector pieces at the purging outlet whereby purging gas that is circulated within the interior of the substrate container is redirected after the purging gas leaves the interior to wash the exterior surface of the substrate container.
A feature and advantage of certain embodiments of the invention provides a substrate container with purging outlets distributed over the container and with the outlets exiting to the exterior of the container the outlets redirecting the exiting purge gas in a direction parallel to the exterior surfaces of the container. Such purge outlets may have check valves therein to prevent flow of gases into the interior when the purging is not occurring.

A feature and advantage of certain embodiments of the invention is a substrate container with a plurality of purging inlets, at least one purge inlet directed into the interior of the substrate container and at least one purge inlet directed to washing the exterior surface of a wall defining the interior containment of the substrate container.
A feature and advantage of certain embodiments of the invention is a substrate container with a plurality of purging inlets, at least one purge inlet directed into the interior of the substrate container and at least one purge inlet directed to washing the exterior surface of a wall defining the interior containment of the substrate container.
A feature and advantage of certain embodiments of the invention provides for deflector pieces at the purging outlets whereby purging gas that is circulated within the interior of the substrate container is redirected after the purging gas leaves the interior to wash the exterior surface of the substrate container. Such deflectors can be attached or fixed to the substrate container or may be separate therefrom, such as part of the stocker or enclosure for the container.
A feature and advantage of certain embodiments of the invention is that the purge gas that is highly concentrated (such as very clean and very dry air) can optimally be utilized by dispersing it in close proximity to the outside surface of a substrate container thereby minimizing moisture permeation and maintaining minimal moisture in the polymer shell of the reticle pod and accelerating diffusion from the substrate container surface
Description of the Figures
Figure 1 is a diagrammatic view of a reticle pod stocker with purging features in accord with the invention herein.
Figure 2 is a diagrammatic view of a wafer container, stocker with purging features in accord with the invention herein.
Figure 3 is a perspective view of a reticle SMIF pod in accord with the invention herein.
Figure 4 is a cross sectional diagrammatic view of the reticle pod of Figure 3 connected to purging systems in accord with the inventions herein.
Figure 5 is another diagrammatic view of a reticle SMIF pod in accord with the invention herein.

Figure 6 is a diagrammatic view of a SMIF pod in accord with the invention herein. Figure 7 is a diagrammatic view of a SMIF pod in accord with the invention herein.

Figure 8 is a detailed cross sectional view of a purge deflector with a check valve in accord with the invention here in.
Figure 9 is cross sectional view of a SMIF pod in accord with the invention herein.

Figure 10 is a perspective exploded view of a SMIF pod for semi-conductor wafers in accord with the invention herein.
Figure 1 1 is a perspective view of a front opening wafer container in accord with the invention herein; for example a 300 millimeter front opening unified pod, a FOUP.
Figure 11 a is bottom view of the FOUP of Figure 11.
Figure 12 is an exploded view of a front opening substrate container in accord with the invention herein.
Figure 13 is a cross sectional view of wall detail of a substrate container in accord with the invention herein.
Figure 14 is an alternate view of the cross sectional detail of a substrate container in accord with invention herein.
Detailed Description of the Preferred Embodiments
Referring to Figure 1, an enclosure 20 is illustrated configured as a reticle SMIF pod stocker having purge gas supplies 24 and 26. Alternatively, the substrate container may be wafer containers such as those known as FOUPs (front opening unified pods) and FOSBs (front opening shipping boxes), In such stockers clean dry air or very clean dry air may be provided to the enclosure. Alternatively a pure inert gas such as nitrogen may be provided. The stocker has receiving regions 40 and 42 where reticle SMIF pods seat on shelves 44, 46 the reticle SMIF pods 50 have purge inlets at the bottom of said reticle pods whereby a purging gas is provided into he interior of said reticle pods. Said purging gas may be discharged through filters 60 in the base of the reticle pod into the ambient environment 64 of the stocker additional exterior surface purge gas is provided by purge outlets, such as nozzles 68, 70, which are directed towards the exterior of the reticle SMIF pod. Shrouds or directing plates 75, 76, 77 may be utilized downstream of the nozzles to direct the air or gas flow to the exterior surface of the pod This concentrated purge gas provides drawing of the polymer shell of the reticle pods and prevents permeation of moisture therein and drys out the polymer shell. The enclosure may have partitions 74 to isolate said reticle pods to allow maximum concentration of the purged gas provided for the exterior washing of said pods. An additional purge gas outlet 78 may be provided in the interior for providing generally clean air into the interior of the reticle pod stocker. See PCT/US2007/014428 incorporated herein by reference for explanation and descriptions of CDA and extra clean dry air.
Note that the various purge gases provided may be optimally composed and have varying levels of dryness and/or cleanliness for the specific intended function, that is, interior purging, exterior purge gas washing, or providing the ambient atmosphere in the stocker.
Referring to Figure 2, a further enclosure 100 is illustrated having shelves 102, 104. Said shelves having purging outlets 106, 108 and purging exhaust receivers 110, 112 for receiving the purged gas after it has circulated through the wafer container. Wafer containers such as SMIF pods or FOUPs 120 may be placed on said shelves to seat on the respective purging outlets and purging exhaust fittings. Additionally, shrouds 130 are provided that are movable upwardly and downwardly to generally enclose the substrate containers providing a restrictive interior space whereby a specific purging gas may be provided to effectively the wash the exterior of the substrate container 120. Said purging gas may be exhausted between the juncture of the shroud and shelf or through other venting or outlet exhaust means. Various supplies of purging gas may be provided as illustrated by supplies 142, 144, 146 and purge gas lines 147, 148, 149. Such supplies may be different gasses such as nitrogen versus air and may be provided with varying degrees of cleanliness and/or dryness as desired or appropriate. The enclosure of Figure 2 may be portable as illustrated by wheels 150 to transport the substrate containers within a fabrication facility typically intermediate processing steps.
Referring to Figures 3 and 4, a SMIF pod is illustrated generally configured as a reticle SMIF pod 160. Said reticle SMIF pod is generally comprised of a shell portion 162, a door 163, and a shroud 164. The shroud 164 is configured to overlay in juxta position to the outside surface 168 of the shell portion. Said shell portion operates as a containment for the reticle contained therein. Referring specifically to Figure 4 the reticle 172 is illustrated by dashed lines and is supported by reticle supports 174, 176. The door has a pair of purge inlets 182, 184 which are connected to the interior 186 of the reticle pod as defined by the shell and the door. Purge nozzles 190, 192 inject purge gas into the interior of said reticle SMIF pod. In this configuration the purge gas is exhausted through a filter 194 positioned centrally in the door 163. The shroud 164 has a further purge inlet 198 which leads into the space 200 defined between the shroud 164 and the exterior surface 168 of the shell. Said purge gas injected into said space 200 and is conveyed along and adjacent to said exterior surface, in a direction parallel to said exterior surface, and is directed to and follows the contours of said exterior surface as constrained by said shroud. The purge gas may be exhausted at the openings 204. T gas flow is illustrated generally by the arrows in the figures and particularly here in the space 200. Different purge gas sources 208, 210 can be provided for the purge gas providing varying compositions and/or cleanliness and/or dryness.
Figure 5 illustrates an alternative view of a SMlF pod in which the purge gas is injected into the interior of the SMIF pod to be exhausted out an outlet 220 in the SMIF pod shell portion 162. Said purge gas is thus circulated in the interior of the SMIF pod and then exits and is forced to travel along the exterior surface 168 of the shell as directed by the shroud 164.
Referring to Figure 6, a further embodiment of a SMIF pod 250 is illustrated. The SMIF pod has a shell portion 252, a door 254, with an interior 256. The door and the shell portion define an interior 260 for the containment of the reticle 264. The door has, in this embodiment, two purge inlets 270, 272 that lead into the interior of the reticle pod where the reticle is contained. A third purged inlet 276 leads into the interior of the door. The door has a purge outlet 278 whereby purge gas injected into the door interior 256 is exhausted out of the door. In SMIF pods, the doors are positioned at the bottom of the pods; in FOUPS and FOSBs, the doors are positioned at an open front of the container portion, see Figure 11. Such FOUP and FOSB doors will often have open interiors that may similarly be purged. In the configuration of Figure 6, the purge gas injected into the interior of the reticle pod, where the reticle is stored, is exhausted out an opening 282 in the shell. Said opening having a filter 284 disposed therein as disclosed in US 2006/0266011, incorporated herein by reference. The exhaust gas for the interior of the reticle pod is then forced along the exterior surface of the shell portion by the shroud 286. The purge gas supply 290 may have separate portions 292, 294 for providing purge gas of different compositions and/or cleanliness and/or dryness.

Referring to Figure 7, a further SMIF pod 300 is illustrated. The SMIF pod generally comprises a door 302 and a shell portion 304. The door has purge inlets 306, 308 that are connectable to purge sources and that inject the purge gas into he interior 310 of the SMIF pod 300. In this configuration the shell has a plurality of outlets to exhaust the purge gas and a plurality of deflectors 320 positioned at each of the shell outlets. The deflectors deflect and direct the exhaust gas leaving the interior of the SMIF pod to wash the exterior surface 324 of the shell. Such an arrangement is also suitable for other substrate containers, such as wafer containers, see below.
Referring to Figure 8 a cross sectional detail is illustrated of a configuration of the deflector, said deflector 320 is T-shaped with a threaded end 324 having a conduit pathway 326 extending through and exiting in a lateral direction a check valve 328 is appropriately putted in the outlet to provide for one-way outlet flow only. This may be on the SMIF pods or wafer containers described herein.
Referring to Figure 9, a further embodiment of a SMIF pod 400 is illustrated and is comprised generally of a door 402 and a shell portion 404. The shell portion comprises an inner wall 406 and an outer wall 408. The inner wall has an outwardly facing surface 410. The SMIF pod has, in this configuration, four purge ports and inlet port 414 configured to inject purged gas into the interior 416 of the reticle pod to be exhausted out the exhaust port 420. Said ports are suitably located in the door. Substrate support structure 424 is provided on the door and can be configured either as a support for reticles or to position a conventional h-bar wafer carrier, The shell portion seals with the door by way of seals 430 and 432. The secondary seal 432 provides containment of the space 436 intermediate the inner shell wall and the outer shell wall. An additional purge port 442 is provided to inject a purge gas in the space between the inner shell portion and the outer shell portion. An additional exhaust port 446 is provided to provide an exit of the purged gas exhausted from the space intermediate the wall portions. Although this door is not shown in Figure 9 to have an interior as illustrated in Figure 6 and Figure 7 it is understood by those knowledgeable in the art that said doors would be feasible in the Fig. 9 configuration and should be included and considered as a embodiment of the invention herein.
Referring to Figure 10, a conventional SMIF pod 500 is a illustrated with a shell portion 502, a door 504, and an H-bar wafer carrier 506. The door has an internal latch mechanism 510 that will engage with the inside purify of the shell portion 502 to secure the door in place as is conventional with SMIF pods. The door also has support structure 512 to properly position the h-bar 514 of the carrier thereon. Additional purge ports 520 are positioned in the bottom of the door to be engaged from below the door. This SMIF pod may have the upper shell portion configured as illustrated in Figure 9 and may have the door as illustrated in either Figure 9 or the figures illustrating doors with the open interiors, see Figures 6 and 7.
Referring to Figure 1 1 , a front opening pod 600 is illustrated. Such pods are often known as front opening unified pods (FOUPs) and are utilized for storing 300 millimeter wafers intermediate process steps. The container comprises generally a container portion 602, a door 604 with latch mechanisms, and latch mechanisms key holes 606 in the front of the door. Said door sealingly engages to the shell portion 602 to create a hermetic interior. A bottom side is illustrated in Figure 11a and has an industry standard three-groove kinematic coupling 624 positioned thereon. Purge ports 630 may be positioned on the bottom base of the shell portion or are alternatively positioned on the front door as illustrated by the dash lines on Figure 1 1 with the numeral 634. The shell portion of the container of Figure 1 1 may have a double wall configuration as illustrated in Figures 13 and 14. Wafers are contained within the interior 644 of the wafer container and would be conventionally purgeable. An additional supplemental wall 650 may be provided to provide a space 658 between the inner wall 660 and the outer wall 655. The inner wall has an exteriorly facing surface 662 which is exposed to the interior purged gasses, as indicated by the arrows, and may circulate within the interior between the double wall sections to provide a drying effect to the polymer interior wall and prevent permeation of moisture inwardly. The purge gas can be exhausted from the interior through a port 670 with a check valve 672 as illustrated in Figure 13 or can be discharged by way of a separate purge port position in the base of the container portion, see Figure 14. Said port could be as indicated on Figure 11, as illustrated by the dashed lines enumerated with 670, 672. Rather than have the space 658 within the double wall of the FOUP defining a secondary sealed enclosure, such as is illustrated in the SMIF pod of Figure 9, said double wall may be configured as a shroud as illustrated in Figure 11. In either case a purge gas is provided and directed along the exterior facing surface of the wall portions that define the confined interior where the wafers are contained.
Referring to Figure 12, a configuration is illustrated that would be appropriate for providing the double wall section with sealed interior spaces. This configuration has an exterior shell portion 802, an interior shell portion 804, and a door 806. When assembled a gap is provided between the outer shell and the inner shell with said space between said shells being purgeable to accomplish the functions as described above. Similarly the interior of said container also would suitably would purgeable. Front opening containers as such are typically have machine interfaces configured as threes groove kinematic coupling 812.