Title:
Apparatus and methods for transferring heat during chemical processing of microelectronic workpieces
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A method and apparatus for processing a microelectronic workpiece. The apparatus can include a vessel configured to receive a processing fluid and can further include a support member having a contacting portion configured to carry the microelectronic workpiece at least proximate to the vessel. The apparatus can further include a heater positioned at least proximate to at least one of the vessel and the support member to heat at least a portion of the support member. Alternatively, the heater can be positioned to heat at least a portion of the microelectronic workpiece in addition to, or in lieu of heating the support member.



Inventors:
Graham, Lyndon (Hillsboro, OR, US)
Weaver, Robert A. (Whitefish, MT, US)
Wilson, Gregory J. (Kalispell, MT, US)
Hanson, Kyle M. (Kalispell, MT, US)
Application Number:
10/313980
Publication Date:
06/10/2004
Filing Date:
12/06/2002
Assignee:
GRAHAM LYNDON
WEAVER ROBERT A.
WILSON GREGORY J.
HANSON KYLE M.
Primary Class:
International Classes:
C23C18/16; C25D5/00; C25D17/00; (IPC1-7): C25D5/00
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
WILKINS III, HARRY D
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
PATENT-SEA,PERKINS COIE LLP (P.O. BOX 1247, SEATTLE, WA, 98111-1247, US)
Claims:
I/we claim:

1. An apparatus for processing a microelectronic workpiece, comprising: a vessel configured to receive a processing fluid; a support member having a contacting portion configured to carry the microelectronic workpiece at least proximate to the vessel; and a heater positioned at least proximate to at least one of the vessel and the support member to heat at least a portion of (a) the support member, or (b) the microelectronic workpiece when the contacting portion carries the microelectronic workpiece, or (c) the support member and at least a portion of the microelectronic workpiece.

2. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein the heater includes a substrate having at least one electrically conductive trace coupleable to a source of electrical current, and wherein the apparatus further comprises a shield member having an opening in which the heater is disposed, the shield member being sealably disposed around the heater to at least restrict contact between the heater and the processing fluid, and wherein the shield member includes the contacting portion.

3. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein the support member includes at least one of a rotor configured to rotate the microelectronic workpiece, a backing plate configured to contact the microelectronic workpiece, and a seal configured to seal an interface between the support member and the vessel, and wherein at least one of the rotor, the backing plate and the seal has a fluid passage positioned to receive heated fluid to heat the at least one of the rotor, the backing plate and the seal.

4. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein the support member is moveable relative to the vessel to move the microelectronic workpiece relative to the vessel.

5. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein the heater is carried by the support member.

6. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein the heater includes a substrate having at least one electrically conductive trace coupleable to a source of electrical current, and wherein the contacting portion includes a shield member having an opening in which the heater is disposed, the shield member being sealably disposed around the heater to at least restrict contact between the heater and the processing fluid, the shield member having a contacting surface facing toward the microelectronic substrate, the contacting surface having a plurality of vacuum apertures coupleable to a vacuum source to draw the microelectronic substrate toward the contacting surface.

7. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein the vessel is configured to receive an electrolytic processing fluid, and wherein the support member includes an electrical contact element positioned to removably contact the microelectronic workpiece when the support member carries the microelectronic workpiece, further wherein the heater is positioned at least proximate to the electrical contact element to transfer heat to the electrical contact element.

8. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein the vessel includes an inner chamber having a weir over which the processing fluid can flow, the weir defining a level of the processing fluid, the vessel further including an outer chamber disposed outwardly from the inner chamber and positioned to receive processing fluid flowing over the weir.

9. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein the vessel is configured to receive an electroless processing fluid, and wherein the heater is positioned to transfer heat to the microelectronic workpiece when the support member carries the microelectronic workpiece.

10. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein the heater includes an electrical resistance heater.

11. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein the contacting portion includes a moveable mechanical device configured to releasably clamp the microelectronic workpiece to the support member.

12. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein the contacting portion includes a contacting surface having plurality of vacuum apertures, the vacuum apertures being coupleable to a vacuum source to draw the microelectronic workpiece toward the contacting surface.

13. The apparatus of claim 1, further comprising a temperature sensor operatively coupled to the heater to control activation of the heater.

14. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein the vessel includes an infrared-transmissive window and wherein the apparatus further comprises an infrared temperature sensor positioned to detect a temperature through the window, the infrared temperature sensor being operatively coupled to the heater to control activation of the heater.

15. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein the heater has a first zone configured to transfer heat at a first rate, the heater further having a second zone configured to transfer heat at a second rate different than the first rate.

16. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein the vessel includes a portion that is at least partially transmissive to infrared radiation, and wherein the heater includes an infrared heater positioned at least proximate to the vessel to direct infrared radiation through the at least partially transmissive portion.

17. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein the heater includes a fluid conduit coupleable to a source of heated fluid, the fluid conduit being positioned to provide thermal contact between the fluid and at least a portion of the support member.

18. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein the support member includes at least one of a rotor configured to rotate the microelectronic workpiece, a backing plate configured to contact the microelectronic workpiece, and a seal configured to seal an interface between the support member and the vessel, and wherein at least one of the rotor, the backing plate and the seal has an electrically conductive layer coupleable to a source of electrical current to heat the at least one of the rotor, the backing plate and the seal.

19. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein the support member is configured to contact an edge of the microelectronic workpiece.

20. An apparatus for electrolessly processing a microelectronic workpiece, comprising: a vessel configured to contain an electroless processing fluid; a support member having a contacting portion configured to carry the microelectronic workpiece at least proximate to the vessel; and a heater positioned at least proximate to a surface of the microelectronic workpiece when the contacting portion carries the microelectronic workpiece to transfer heat to the microelectronic workpiece.

21. The apparatus of claim 20 wherein the vessel includes a portion that is at least partially transmissive to infrared radiation, and wherein the heater includes an infrared heater positioned at least proximate to the vessel to direct infrared radiation through the at least partially transmissive portion to the microelectronic workpiece.

22. The apparatus of claim 20 wherein the heater is carried by the support member.

23. The apparatus of claim 20 wherein the support member is moveable relative to the vessel to bring the microelectronic workpiece into contact with the electroless processing fluid when the vessel contains the electroless processing fluid.

24. The apparatus of claim 20, further comprising the electroless processing fluid.

25. The apparatus of claim 20 wherein the heater includes an electrical heater.

26. The apparatus of claim 20 wherein the heater includes a substrate having a first surface facing toward the microelectronic workpiece when the support member carries the microelectronic workpiece, the substrate further having a second surface facing opposite the first surface, and wherein the heater further includes electrically conductive traces positioned at least proximate to the second surface of the substrate.

27. The apparatus of claim 20 wherein the heater includes a substrate having a first surface facing toward the microelectronic workpiece when the support member supports the microelectronic workpiece, the substrate further having a second surface facing opposite from the first surface, and wherein the heater further includes electrically conductive traces positioned at least proximate to the first surface of the substrate.

28. The apparatus of claim 20 wherein the heater is a first heater and wherein the apparatus further comprises a second heater spaced apart from the support member and positioned to heat the electroless processing fluid.

29. The apparatus of claim 20 wherein the heater includes an electrical heater coupleable to a source of electrical current, and wherein the contacting portion includes a shield member having an opening in which the heater is disposed, the shield member being sealably disposed around the heater to at least restrict contact between the heater and the processing fluid.

30. The apparatus of claim 20 wherein the heater includes an electrical heater having electrical leads coupleable to a source of electrical current, and wherein the contacting portion includes a shield member sealably disposed around at least a portion of the leads to at least restrict contact between the leads and the processing fluid.

31. The apparatus of claim 20 wherein the heater includes a substrate having at least one conductive electrical trace coupleable to a source of electrical current.

32. The apparatus of claim 20 wherein the microelectronic workpiece has a first surface facing toward the processing fluid and a second surface facing opposite the first surface, and wherein the heater is positioned to transfer heat to the second surface.

33. An apparatus for electrolessly processing a microelectronic workpiece, comprising: a vessel configured to contain an electroless processing fluid; a support member configured to carry the microelectronic workpiece, the support member being moveable relative to the vessel to bring the microelectronic workpiece into contact with the electroless processing fluid when the vessel contains the electroless processing fluid; an electrical heater carried by the support member, the heater being positioned to contact a surface of the microelectronic workpiece when the support member carries the microelectronic workpiece to transfer heat to the microelectronic workpiece by conduction, wherein the heater includes a substrate having a first surface and a second surface facing opposite the first surface, the first surface being positioned to face toward the microelectronic workpiece when the support member supports the microelectronic workpiece, the heater further including at least one electrical trace proximate to the second surface of the substrate and coupleable to a source of electrical current; and a shield member sealably disposed around at least a portion of the heater to at least restrict contact between the electroless processing fluid and the heater, the shield member having a contacting surface positioned to contact the microelectronic workpiece.

34. The apparatus of claim 33 wherein the shield member has an annular opening in which the heater is disposed, the shield member being sealably disposed around the heater to at least restrict contact between the heater and the processing fluid.

35. The apparatus of claim 33 wherein the heater has electrical leads coupleable to a source of electrical current, and wherein the shield member is sealably disposed around at least a portion of the leads to at least restrict contact between the leads and the processing fluid.

36. The apparatus of claim 33 wherein the shield member has a first surface facing toward the support member and a second surface facing away from the first surface, and wherein the second surface includes at least one vacuum aperture coupleable to a vacuum source to draw the microelectronic workpiece toward the support member.

37. The apparatus of claim 33 wherein the shield member has an annular opening in which the heater is disposed, the shield member having a first surface sealably engaged with the support member to at least restrict contact between the heater and the processing fluid, the shield member further having a second surface facing opposite the first surface and facing toward the microelectronic workpiece, the second surface having at least one vacuum aperture coupleable to a vacuum source to draw the microelectronic workpiece toward the support member.

38. An apparatus for processing a microelectronic workpiece, comprising: a vessel configured to receive an electrolytic processing fluid; a support member having a contacting portion configured to carry the microelectronic workpiece at least proximate to the vessel, the support member being moveable relative to the vessel to move the microelectronic workpiece relative to the vessel; a contact element carried by the support member and positioned to be in electrical communication with the microelectronic workpiece when the support member carries the microelectronic workpiece; and a heater carried by the support member to heat at least a portion of the support member.

39. The apparatus of claim 38 wherein the support member includes at least one of a rotor configured to rotate the microelectronic workpiece, a backing plate configured to contact the microelectronic workpiece with the microelectronic workpiece positioned between the backing plate and the contact element, and a seal configured to seal an interface between the support member and the vessel, and wherein at least one of the rotor, the backing plate and the seal has a fluid passage positioned to receive a heated fluid to heat the at least one of the rotor, the backing plate and the seal.

40. The apparatus of claim 38 wherein the heater includes a fluid conduit coupleable to a source of heated fluid, the fluid conduit being positioned to provide thermal contact between fluid in the conduit and at least a portion of the support member.

41. The apparatus of claim 38 wherein the support member includes at least one of a rotor configured to rotate the microelectronic workpiece, a backing plate configured to contact the microelectronic workpiece with the microelectronic workpiece positioned between the backing plate and the contact element, and a seal configured to seal an interface between the support member and the vessel, and wherein at least one of the rotor, the backing plate and the seal has an electrically conductive layer coupleable to a source of electrical current to heat the at least one of the rotor, the backing plate and the seal.

42. A method for processing a microelectronic workpiece, comprising: carrying the microelectronic workpiece with a support member, the microelectronic workpiece having a first surface and a second surface facing opposite from the first surface; while the support member carries the microelectronic workpiece, contacting the first surface of the microelectronic workpiece with a processing fluid; and while the first surface of the microelectronic workpiece contacts the processing fluid, transferring heat from a heater positioned at least proximate to at least one of the microelectronic workpiece and the support member to the second surface of the microelectronic workpiece, or to the support member, or to both the second surface and the support member.

43. The method of claim 42, further comprising carrying the heater with the support member.

44. The method of claim 42, further comprising at least restricting a formation of condensation on the support member by transferring heat to the support member.

45. The method of claim 42 wherein the support member includes at least one electrical contact element positioned to removably contact the microelectronic workpiece when the support member carries the microelectronic workpiece, the support member including a backing plate positioned against the microelectronic workpiece with the microelectronic workpiece positioned between the backing plate and the at least one electrical contact element, and wherein the method further comprises at least restricting a formation of condensation on at least one of the electrical contact element and the backing plate.

46. The method of claim 42 wherein the heater includes a substrate having at least one electrically conductive trace, and wherein the method further comprises: coupling the at least one conductive trace to a source of electrical current; and at least restricting contact between the heater and the processing fluid with a shield positioned at least proximate to at least a portion of the heater.

47. The method of claim 42 wherein the heater includes a substrate having at least one electrically conductive trace, and wherein the method further comprises: coupling the at least one conductive trace to a source of electrical current; at least restricting contact between the heater and the processing fluid with a shield positioned annularly around the heater; and drawing a vacuum on at least one vacuum aperture in the shield to apply a force on the microelectronic workpiece directed toward the support member.

48. The method of claim 42 wherein the processing fluid includes an electrolytic processing fluid carried in a vessel having an inner chamber with a weir over which the processing fluid can flow, the weir defining a level of the processing fluid, the vessel further including an outer chamber disposed outwardly from the inner chamber and positioned to receive processing fluid flowing over the weir.

49. The method of claim 42 wherein the support member includes an electrical contact element positioned to removably contact the microelectronic workpiece when the support member supports the microelectronic workpiece, still further wherein the method further comprises transferring heat from the heater to the electrical contact element.

50. The method of claim 42 wherein transferring heat to the second surface of the microelectronic workpiece includes transferring the heat to the second surface before the heat is transferred to the first surface.

51. The method of claim 42 wherein the heater includes an electrical resistance heater and wherein the method further comprises heating the heater by passing an electrical current through the heater.

52. The method of claim 42, further comprising immersing the microelectronic workpiece in the processing fluid while transferring heat from the heater to the microelectronic workpiece.

53. The method of claim 42, further comprising mechanically clamping the microelectronic workpiece to the support member.

54. The method of claim 42, further comprising: sensing a temperature of a region at least proximate to the microelectronic workpiece; and controlling activation of the heater based on the temperature sensed in the region at least proximate to the microelectronic workpiece.

55. The method of claim 42, further comprising: sensing infrared emissions from the microelectronic workpiece to detect a temperature of a region at least proximate to the microelectronic workpiece; and controlling activation of the heater based on the temperature.

56. The method of claim 42, further comprising: transferring heat from a first portion of the heater to a first portion of the microelectronic workpiece at a first rate; and transferring heat from a second portion of the heater to a second portion of the microelectronic workpiece at a second rate.

57. The method of claim 42, further comprising conveying a conductive material from the processing liquid to the microelectronic workpiece in an electrolytic process.

58. The method of claim 42, further comprising: transferring heat from a first portion of the heater to a first portion of the microelectronic workpiece at a first rate; transferring heat from a second portion of the heater to a second portion of the microelectronic workpiece at a second rate; and controlling a first temperature of the first portion of the microelectronic workpiece to be approximately the same as a second temperature of the second portion of the microelectronic workpiece.

59. The method of claim 42, further comprising: transferring heat from a first portion of the heater to a first portion of the microelectronic workpiece at a first rate; transferring heat from a second portion of the heater to a second portion of the microelectronic workpiece at a second rate; and controlling a first temperature of the first portion of the microelectronic workpiece to be different than a second temperature of the second portion of the microelectronic workpiece.

60. The method of claim 42, further comprising conveying a conductive material from the processing liquid to the microelectronic workpiece in an electroless process.

61. The method of claim 42, further comprising: applying an electrical potential to the microelectronic workpiece; and conveying a conductive material from a consumable anode to the processing fluid and from the processing fluid to the microelectronic workpiece in an electrolytic process.

62. The method of claim 42 wherein transferring heat includes directing infrared radiation through an at least partially infrared-transmissive portion of the support member.

63. The method of claim 42 wherein the support member includes at least one of a rotor configured to rotate the microelectronic workpiece, a backing plate configured to contact the microelectronic workpiece and a seal configured to seal an interface between the support member and the vessel, and wherein transferring heat includes passing a heated fluid through at least one fluid passage positioned in at least one of the rotor, the backing plate and the seal.

64. The method of claim 42 wherein transferring heat includes transferring a heated fluid through a conduit and to the support member.

65. The method of claim 42 wherein the support member includes at least one of a rotor configured to rotate the microelectronic workpiece, a backing plate configured to contact the microelectronic workpiece and a seal configured to seal an interface between the support member and the vessel, and wherein at least one of the rotor, the backing plate and the seal has an electrically conductive layer coupleable to a source of electrical current to heat the at least one of the rotor, the backing plate and the seal.

66. A method for electrolessly processing a microelectronic workpiece, comprising: carrying the microelectronic workpiece with a support member, the microelectronic workpiece having a first surface and a second surface facing opposite from the first surface; while the support member carries the microelectronic workpiece, contacting the first surface of the microelectronic workpiece with an electroless processing fluid; and while the first surface contacts the electroless processing fluid, transferring heat from a heater carried by the support member to the second surface of the microelectronic workpiece.

67. The method of claim 66 wherein transferring heat to the second surface of the microelectronic workpiece includes contacting an electrical heat source with the microelectronic workpiece.

68. The method of claim 66 wherein transferring heat to the second surface of the microelectronic workpiece includes contacting a thick-film electrical resistance heat source with the microelectronic workpiece.

69. The method of claim 66, further comprising heating the first surface of the microelectronic workpiece by heating the electroless processing fluid before contacting the microelectronic workpiece with the electroless processing fluid.

70. A method for processing a microelectronic workpiece, comprising: carrying the microelectronic workpiece with a support member, the microelectronic workpiece having a first surface and a second surface facing opposite from the first surface; while the support member carries the microelectronic workpiece, contacting the first surface of the microelectronic workpiece with a processing fluid; and while the first surface contacts the processing fluid, transferring heat to the microelectronic workpiece by directing infrared radiation through the processing fluid toward the microelectronic workpiece.

71. The method of claim 70, further comprising mechanically clamping the microelectronic workpiece to the support member.

72. The method of claim 70, further comprising drawing the microelectronic workpiece to the support member by applying a vacuum to the microelectronic workpiece.

73. The method of claim 70 wherein directing infrared radiation includes directing infrared radiation through an at least partially transmissive portion of a vessel containing the processing fluid.

74. A method for electrolessly processing a microelectronic workpiece, comprising: directing a quantity of electroless processing fluid into a vessel at a temperature at least approximately equal to an ambient temperature of a region adjacent to the vessel; carrying the microelectronic workpiece with a support member, the microelectronic workpiece having a first surface and a second surface facing opposite from the first surface; contacting the first surface of the microelectronic workpiece with the electroless processing fluid; and while the first surface contacts the electroless processing fluid, transferring heat to the microelectronic workpiece.

75. The method of claim 74, further comprising transferring heat to the second surface from a heater carried by the support member.

76. The method of claim 74 wherein transferring heat to the microelectronic workpiece includes contacting an electrical heat source with the second surface of the microelectronic workpiece.

76. The method of claim 74 wherein transferring heat to the microelectronic workpiece includes contacting a thick-film electrical resistance heat source with the second surface of the microelectronic workpiece.



78. The method of claim 74 wherein transferring heat to the microelectronic workpiece includes directing infrared radiation through the electroless processing fluid to the microelectronic workpiece.

79. A method for electrolessly processing a microelectronic workpiece, comprising: directing a quantity of electroless processing fluid into a vessel; carrying the microelectronic workpiece with a support member, the microelectronic workpiece having a first surface and a second surface facing opposite from the first surface; contacting the first surface of the microelectronic workpiece with the electroless processing fluid; while the first surface of the microelectronic workpiece contacts the electroless processing fluid, transferring heat to the second surface of the microelectronic workpiece by applying an electrical current to a resistance heater carried by the support member; and at least restricting contact between the resistance heater and the electroless processing fluid with a seal positioned adjacent to at least a portion of the heater.

80. The method of claim 79, further comprising disposing a conductive material on the first surface of the microelectronic workpiece while the first surface contacts the electroless processing fluid.

81. The method of claim 79 wherein resisting contact between the resistance heater and the electroless processing fluid includes positioning the heater in an annular opening of a generally cylindrical seal member and sealably engaging the seal member with the support member.

82. A method for processing a microelectronic workpiece, comprising: carrying the microelectronic workpiece with a support member, the microelectronic workpiece having a first surface and a second surface facing opposite from the first surface; applying an electrical potential to the first surface of the microelectronic workpiece; while the microelectronic workpiece is carried by the support member, contacting the first surface of the microelectronic workpiece with an electrolytic processing fluid; conveying conductive material from the electrolytic processing fluid to the microelectronic workpiece; and while the first surface contacts the electrolytic processing fluid, at least restricting an amount of condensation formed on at least a portion of the support member by transferring heat to the portion of the support member.

83. The method of claim 82 wherein transferring heat includes transferring heat from a heater carried by the support member.

84. The method of claim 82 wherein the support member includes at least one of a rotor configured to rotate the microelectronic workpiece, a backing plate configured to contact the second surface of the microelectronic workpiece and a seal configured to seal an interface between the support member and the vessel, and wherein the method further comprises passing heated fluid through a fluid passage in at least one of the rotor, the backing plate and the seal.

85. The method of claim 82 wherein the heat transfer unit includes a fluid conduit coupleable to a source of heated fluid, and wherein the method further comprises carrying the fluid conduit with the support member to provide thermal contact between the fluid and at least a portion of the support member.

86. The method of claim 82 wherein the support member includes at least one of a rotor configured to rotate the microelectronic workpiece, a backing plate configured to contact the second surface of the microelectronic workpiece and a seal configured to seal an interface between the support member and the vessel, and wherein the method further comprises passing an electrical current through an electrically conductive layer of at least one of the rotor, the backing plate and the seal to heat the at least one of the rotor, the backing plate and the seal.

87. A method for processing a microelectronic workpiece, comprising: carrying the microelectronic workpiece with a support member, the microelectronic workpiece having a first surface and a second surface facing opposite from the first surface; moving the support member proximate to a vessel containing an electrolytic processing liquid; applying an electrical potential to the first surface of the microelectronic workpiece; while the microelectronic workpiece is carried by the support member, contacting the first surface of the microelectronic workpiece with the electrolytic processing liquid; conveying conductive material from the electrolytic processing liquid to the microelectronic workpiece; and while the first surface contacts the electrolytic processing fluid, at least restricting an amount of condensation formed on at least a portion of the support member by transferring heat to the portion of the support member from a heat transfer unit carried at least in part by the support member.

88. The method of claim 87 wherein the support member includes at least one of a rotor configured to rotate the microelectronic workpiece, a backing plate configured to contact the second surface of the microelectronic workpiece and a seal configured to seal an interface between the support member and the vessel, and wherein the method further comprises passing heated fluid through a fluid passage in at least one of the rotor, the backing plate and the seal.

89. The method of claim 87 wherein the heat transfer unit includes a fluid conduit coupleable to a source of heated fluid, and wherein the method further comprises carrying the fluid conduit with the support member to provide thermal contact between the fluid and at least a portion of the support member.

90. The method of claim 87 wherein the support member includes at least one of a rotor configured to rotate the microelectronic workpiece, a backing plate configured to contact the second surface of the microelectronic workpiece and a seal configured to seal an interface between the support member and the vessel, and wherein the method further comprises passing an electrical current through an electrically conductive layer of at least one of the rotor, the backing plate and the seal to heat the at least one of the rotor, the backing plate and the seal.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

[0001] This application is related to the following U.S. Patent Applications, all of which are incorporated herein in their entireties by reference:

[0002] (a) U.S. patent application Ser. No. 09/797,504, entitled “METHOD AND APPARATUS FOR PROVIDING ELECTRICAL AND FLUID COMMUNICATION TO A ROTATING MICROELECTRONIC WORKPIECE DURING ELECTROCHEMICAL PROCESSING,” filed Mar. 1, 2001, and identified by Perkins Coie LLP docket No. 291958102US;

[0003] (b) U.S. patent application Ser. No. 09/875,424 entitled “LIFT AND ROTATE ASSEMBLY FOR USE IN A WORKPIECE PROCESSING STATION AND A METHOD OF ATTACHING THE SAME,” filed Jun. 5, 2001, and identified by Perkins Coie LLP docket No. 291958154US;

[0004] (c) U.S. Pat. No. 6,168,695 entitled “LIFT AND ROTATE ASSEMBLY FOR USE IN A WORKPIECE PROCESSING STATION AND A METHOD OF ATTACHING THE SAME” and identified by Perkins Coie LLP docket No. 291958033US;

[0005] (d) U.S. patent application Ser. No. 60/316,597 entitled “APPARATUS AND METHODS FOR ELECTROCHEMICAL PROCESSING OF MICROELECTRONIC WORKPIECES,” filed Aug. 31, 2001, and identified by Perkins Coie LLP docket No. 291958167US; and

[0006] (e) U.S. patent application Ser. No. 09/733,608 entitled “METHOD AND APPARATUS FOR PROCESSING A MICROELECTRONIC WORKPIECE AT AN ELEVATED TEMPERATURE,” filed Dec. 8, 2000, and identified by Perkins Coie LLP docket No. 291958124US.

TECHNICAL FIELD

[0007] The present invention is directed generally to methods and apparatuses for transferring heat in processing chambers for chemically and/or electrochemically processing microelectronic workpieces.

BACKGROUND

[0008] Microelectronic devices, such as semiconductor devices and field emission displays, are generally fabricated on and/or in microelectronic workpieces using several different types of machines (“tools”). Many such processing machines have a single processing station that performs one or more procedures on the workpieces. Other processing machines have a plurality of processing stations that perform a series of different procedures on individual workpieces or batches of workpieces. In a typical fabrication process, one or more layers of conductive materials are formed on the workpieces during deposition stages. The workpieces are then typically subject to etching and/or polishing procedures (i.e., planarization) to remove a portion of the deposited conductive layers for forming electrically isolated contacts and/or conductive lines.

[0009] Plating tools that plate metals or other materials on the workpieces are becoming an increasingly useful type of processing machine. Electroplating and electroless plating techniques can be used to deposit nickel, copper, solder, permalloy, gold, silver, platinum and other metals onto workpieces for forming blanket layers or patterned layers. A typical metal plating process involves depositing a seed layer onto the surface of the workpiece using chemical vapor deposition (CVD), physical vapor deposition (PVD), electroless plating processes or other suitable methods. After forming the seed layer, a blanket layer or pattern layer of metal is plated on the workpiece by applying an appropriate electrical potential between the seed layer and an electrode in the presence of an electrolytic processing solution. Alternatively, the blanket layer can be applied to the workpiece using electroless processing techniques. In either process, the workpiece is then cleaned, etched and/or annealed in subsequent procedures before transferring the workpiece to another processing machine.

[0010] In some conventional electrolytic processing techniques, the electrolytic fluid used to plate conductive material onto the microelectronic workpiece is heated. For example, gold and platinum are typically plated onto a microelectronic workpiece using a heated electrolytic solution. One drawback with heating the electrolytic solution is that vapors from the heated solution can condense on portions of the processing chamber, which can result in potentially undesirable side effects.

[0011] Heated solutions are also used conventionally to electrolessly process microelectronic workpieces. For example, in one conventional process, a heated electroless processing solution can be directed into a low volume vessel and the microelectronic workpiece can then be brought into contact with the heated electroless processing fluid to electrolessly deposit materials onto the workpiece. However, it can be difficult to adequately control the processing temperature at the interface between the microelectronic workpiece and the electroless processing fluid. This can adversely affect the chemical plating reaction occurring at the surface of the microelectronic workpiece.

SUMMARY

[0012] The present invention is directed toward apparatuses and methods for transferring heat during chemical processing of microelectronic workpieces. One aspect of several embodiments of the invention is heating components in the chamber where an electrolytic or electroless solution may condense. By heating such components, condensation of the solution is reduced, which reduces internal contamination of the chamber and return of liquid and/or solid constituents back into the solution. Another aspect of several embodiments of the invention is to heat the workpiece itself to reduce the temperature gradient between the workpiece and an electrolytic or electroless solution. This is expected to provide better control of the chemical plating reaction of the surface of the workpiece.

[0013] Several embodiments of apparatuses in accordance with the invention include a vessel configured to receive a processing fluid, such as an electrolytic processing fluid or an electroless processing fluid. A support member configured to carry a microelectronic workpiece can be positioned proximate to the vessel to bring the microelectronic workpiece into contact with the processing fluid. The apparatus can further include a heater positioned to heat the support member and/or the microelectronic workpiece. For example, when the vessel contains a heated processing liquid, vapors rising from the heated liquid can condense on the support member, dissolve contaminants on the support member, and cause these contaminants to precipitate or otherwise return into the vessel. By heating the support member, this avenue for contamination can be reduced or eliminated. In another aspect of the invention, heating the microelectronic workpiece itself can reduce the likelihood for a large temperature gradient at the interface between the microelectronic workpiece and the processing fluid. Such a temperature gradient can adversely affect the chemical plating reaction occurring at the surface of the microelectronic workpiece during electroless processing. In another embodiment, the support member includes a heater with multiple, independently controllable sections that account for heat losses to provide a uniform temperature distribution, or provide a spatially varying temperature distribution.

[0014] In a more particular embodiment, the support member can include at least one of a rotor configured to rotate the microelectronic workpiece, a backing plate configured to contact the microelectronic workpiece, and a seal configured to seal an interface between the support member and the vessel. At least one of the rotor, the backing plate and the seal can have an electrically conductive layer coupleable to a source of electrical current to heat the corresponding component. In another embodiment, at least one of the rotor, the backing plate, and the seal can include a fluid passage positioned to receive heated fluid, or a fluid conduit can be positioned to provide thermal contact between a heated fluid and a portion of the support member to heat the support member.

[0015] In another embodiment, the heater can include a substrate having a first surface and second surface facing opposite the first surface, with the first surface positioned to face toward the microelectronic workpiece. The heater can further include at least one electrical trace proximate to the second surface and coupleable to a source of electrical current. A shield member can be sealably be disposed around at least a portion of the heater to at least restrict contact between an electroless processing fluid and the heater.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0016] FIG. 1 is an isometric view of a processing machine having one or more chemical processing stations for processing microelectronic workpieces in accordance with an embodiment of the invention.

[0017] FIG. 2 is a rear isometric view of a lift and rotate assembly for supporting a microelectronic workpiece during processing in accordance with an embodiment of the invention.

[0018] FIG. 3 is a rear isometric view of the lift and rotate assembly shown in FIG. 2 positioned to contact the microelectronic workpiece with a processing fluid.

[0019] FIG. 4 is a partially schematic, cross-sectional side view of a processing chamber having a support member in accordance with an embodiment of the invention.

[0020] FIG. 5 is a partially schematic, cross-sectional side view of a portion of a support member for carrying a microelectronic workpiece in accordance with another embodiment of the invention.

[0021] FIG. 6 is a partially schematic, cross-sectional side view of a portion of a support member for carrying a microelectronic workpiece in accordance with yet another embodiment of the invention.

[0022] FIG. 7 is a partially schematic, cross-sectional side view of a support member for carrying a microelectronic workpiece in accordance with still another embodiment of the invention.

[0023] FIG. 8 is a partially schematic, cross-sectional side view of a chamber for electrolessly processing a microelectronic workpiece in accordance with an embodiment of the invention.

[0024] FIG. 9 is a partially schematic, cross-sectional side view of a portion of a support member for carrying and heating a microelectronic workpiece in accordance with another embodiment of the invention.

[0025] FIG. 10A is a top plan view of an electrical heating element for heating a microelectronic workpiece in accordance with an embodiment of the invention.

[0026] FIG. 10B is a partially schematic, cross-sectional side view of multi-zone heater configured in accordance with an embodiment of the invention.

[0027] FIG. 11 is a partially schematic, cross-sectional side view of a support member for carrying and heating a microelectronic workpiece in accordance with another embodiment of the invention.

[0028] FIG. 12 is a partially schematic, cross-sectional side view of a support member for carrying and heating a microelectronic workpiece in accordance with still another embodiment of the invention.

[0029] FIG. 13 is a partially schematic, cross-sectional side view of a support member for carrying and heating a microelectronic workpiece in accordance with still another embodiment of the invention.

[0030] FIGS. 14A-C are partially schematic illustrations of support members for carrying a microelectronic workpiece in accordance with further embodiments of the invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

[0031] The following description discloses the details and features of several embodiments of chemical processing stations and integrated tools to process microelectronic workpieces. The term “microelectronic workpiece” is used throughout to include a workpiece formed from a substrate upon which and/or in which microelectronic circuits or components, data storage elements or layers, and/or micro-mechanical elements are fabricated. It will be appreciated that several of the details set forth below are provided to describe the following embodiments in a manner sufficient to enable a person skilled in the relevant art to make and use the disclosed embodiments. Several of the details and advantages described below, however, may not be necessary to practice certain embodiments of the invention. Additionally, the invention can include other embodiments that are within the scope of the claims but are not described in detail with respect to FIGS. 1-13.

[0032] FIG. 1 is an isometric view of a processing machine 100 having a processing station 110 in accordance with an embodiment of the invention. A portion of the processing machine 100 is shown in cut-away view to illustrate selected internal components. In one aspect of this embodiment, the processing machine 100 can include a cabinet 102 having an interior region 104 defining an interior enclosure that is at least partially isolated from an exterior region 105. The cabinet 102 can also include a plurality of apertures 106 (only one shown in FIG. 1) through which microelectronic workpieces can move between the interior region 104 and a load/unload station 120.

[0033] The load/unload station 120 can have two container supports 121 that are each housed in a protective shroud 123. The container supports 121 can be configured to position workpiece containers 122 relative to the apertures 106 in the cabinet 102. The workpiece containers 122 can each house a plurality of microelectronic workpieces 101 in a “mini” clean environment suitable for carrying a plurality of workpieces through other environments that are not at clean room standards. Each of the workpiece containers 122 can be accessible from the interior region 104 of the cabinet 102 through the apertures 106.

[0034] The processing machine 100 can also include a plurality of clean/etch capsules 127, other processing stations 124, (such as annealing stations and/or metrology stations) and a transfer device 128 that moves the microelectronic workpieces 101 between the load/unload station 120 and the capsules and/or processing stations. The transfer device 128 can include a linear track 126 extending in a lengthwise direction of the interior region 104 between the processing stations. The transfer device 128 can further include a robot unit 125 carried by the track 126. In a particular embodiment shown in FIG. 1, a first set of processing stations is arranged along a first row R1-R1 and a second set of processing stations is arranged along a second row R2-R2. The linear track 126 extends between the first and second rows of processing stations, and the robot unit 125 can access any of the processing stations along the track 126.

[0035] FIG. 2 illustrates a rear isometric view of a processing station 110 (generally similar to the one shown in FIG. 1) configured in accordance with an embodiment of the invention. In one aspect of this embodiment, the processing station 110 can include a vessel 130 configured to support a processing fluid, such as an electrolytic processing fluid or an electroless processing fluid. The processing station 110 can further include a lift and rotate assembly 113 that can receive a microelectronic workpiece 101 from the robot unit 125 (FIG. 1) and lower the microelectronic workpiece 101 into contact with the processing fluid in the vessel 130. The lift and rotate assembly 113 can include a base 114, a lift 115 that moves upwardly and downwardly relative to the base 114 (as indicated by arrow A), and a support member 140 carried by the lift 115. The support member 140 can rotate as indicated by arrow B between an upwardly facing position (shown in FIG. 2) to receive the microelectronic workpiece 101, and a downwardly facing position (described below with reference to FIG. 3) to engage the microelectronic workpiece 101 with the fluid in the vessel 130.

[0036] FIG. 3 illustrates the lift and rotate assembly 113 with the support member 140 rotated to its downward facing position and lowered into the vessel 130. Accordingly, the support member 140 can contact the microelectronic workpiece 101 (not visible in FIG. 3) with the liquid in the vessel 130. In one embodiment, the support member 140 can include electrical contacts for electrolytically processing the microelectronic workpiece 101. Alternatively, the support member 140 can be configured to support the microelectronic workpiece 101 for electroless processing. Aspects of support members for electrolytic and electroless processing in accordance with embodiments of the invention are described in greater detail below with reference to FIGS. 4-13. Further details of features of the lift and rotate assembly 113 are included in U.S. Pat. No. 6,168,695 and U.S. patent application Ser. No. 09/875,424, previously incorporated herein by reference.

[0037] FIG. 4 is a partially schematic, cross-sectional side view of a processing station 110 having a vessel 130 and a support member 140 configured for electrolytically processing the microelectronic workpiece 101. In one aspect of this embodiment, the vessel 130 can include an inner chamber 132 in which is positioned an electrode 134, such as a consumable anode. In other embodiments, the inner chamber 132 and the electrode 134 can have other arrangements. For example, the inner chamber 132 can include a plurality of shaped electrodes and contoured surfaces, as described in copending U.S. patent application Ser. No. 60/316,597, previously incorporated herein by reference.

[0038] The vessel 130 can further include an outer chamber 131 disposed annularly around the inner chamber 132. Electrolytic processing fluid provided to the inner chamber 132 can flow upwardly around the electrode 134 and spill over a weir 133 into the outer chamber 131. Accordingly, the weir 133 can define a free surface of the processing fluid and the support member 140 can support the microelectronic workpiece 101 in contact with the free surface.

[0039] In one embodiment, the support member 140 can include a housing 150 carrying a motor 155 or other rotary actuator. The motor 155 can be coupled to a rotor 142 with a shaft assembly 151. Accordingly, the rotor 142 can carry the microelectronic workpiece 101 and rotate the microelectronic workpiece 101 (as indicated by arrow “R”) relative to the fluid in the vessel 130 while one surface of the microelectronic workpiece 101 faces upwardly and the opposite surface faces downwardly to contact the fluid. Rotating the microelectronic workpiece 101 can improve the temperature uniformity across the downwardly facing surface. The support member 140 can further include a support member seal 141 that seals against the inwardly facing wall of the vessel 130 while the rotor 142 rotates.

[0040] In one aspect of this embodiment, the rotor 142 can include a contacting portion 160, such as a backing ring, against which the microelectronic workpiece 101 abuts when it is carried by the support member 140. In one embodiment, the contacting portion 160 can have a generally circular shape and can be formed from a plastic material. An annular support ring 161 formed from a more rigid material, such as a metal, can provide support for the contacting portion 160. The rotor 142 can also include a contact assembly 143 having one or more contact elements 145 that make electrical contact with a conductive portion (such as a seed layer) of the microelectronic workpiece 101. Accordingly, the microelectronic workpiece 101 can function as a cathode while the electrode 134 functions as an anode. Alternatively, the polarities applied to the microelectronic workpiece 101 and the electrode 134 can be reversed. In either embodiment, the contact assembly 143 can provide electrical communication between the microelectronic workpiece 101 and a power supply 153 via electrical cables 147 and the shaft assembly 151.

[0041] In another aspect of this embodiment, the support member 140 can include a ring seal 144 that at least restricts contact between the fluid in the vessel 130 and the interface between the contact elements 145 and the microelectronic workpiece 101. The region between the ring seal 144 and the microelectronic workpiece 101 can be purged with a purge gas supplied by flexible fluid lines 146. Alternatively, the region between the ring seal 144 and the microelectronic workpiece 101 can be evacuated. In either embodiment, the flexible fluid lines 146 can provide for fluid communication between the rotor 142 and a fluid sink 154a and/or a fluid source 154b. Accordingly, the support member 140 can include a rotary interface 152 for transferring fluids to and/or from the rotating shaft assembly 151 and the rotor 142. The rotary interface 152 can also transfer electrical signals between the power supply 153 and the rotor 142. Further details of embodiments of rotary interfaces are included in pending U.S. patent application Ser. No. 09/797,504, previously incorporated herein by reference.

[0042] In one embodiment, for example, when the processing station 110 is used to plate gold and/or platinum onto the microelectronic workpiece 101, the fluid within the vessel 130 can be heated. In one aspect of this embodiment, the fluid can be heated to a temperature of from about 30° C. to about 80° C. In a particular embodiment, the fluid can be heated to from about 50° C. to about 60° C. for plating gold, and about 70° C. for plating platinum. In other embodiments, the fluid can be heated to other temperatures. In any of these embodiments, some of the fluid in the vessel 130 will tend to vaporize and, in a conventional arrangement, can collect as condensation on one or more portions of the support member 140.

[0043] One drawback with some conventional arrangements is that the condensing vapor can dissolve dried contaminants present on the support member 140 and can cause these contaminants to drip into the fluid in the vessel 130. The presence of contaminants in the fluid can alter the chemical process conducted in the processing station 110. For example, in a conventional arrangement, the support member seal 141, the rotor 142, the ring seal 144, the contact assembly 143 and/or the contacting portion 160 can collect contaminants when the support member 140 is in its upwardly facing position (see FIG. 2). The rotor housing and/or retainer (see FIG. 3) can collect contaminants when the support member is in its downwardly facing position. Furthermore, the components identified above (and in particular, the contacting portion 160) may come into contact with the processing fluid vapors not only while the microelectronic workpiece 101 is being processed, but when the processing station 110 is closed for protection and the support member 140 does not carry a microelectronic workpiece 101. Accordingly, embodiments of the invention described below with reference to FIGS. 5-13 are directed to methods and apparatuses for heating portions of the support member 140.

[0044] FIG. 5 is a partially schematic, cross-sectional side view of the support member 140 heated with a gas or another fluid in accordance with an embodiment of the invention. In one aspect of this embodiment, the support member 140 can include a heat transfer unit 170 having a heater 169 coupled to a thermal fluid supply conduit 163 and a thermal fluid return conduit 164. The heater 169 can pump heated fluid through an internal region 148 of the support member 140 as indicated by arrows C. For example, the heated fluid can pass adjacent to an inner surface of the support member seal 141 to heat the support member seal 141, and can pass downwardly through apertures in the rotor 142 to heat the rotor 142, the contacting portion 160 and the annular support ring 161.

[0045] In another aspect of this embodiment, components of the support member 140 can include fluid passages 162 (shown as passages 162a-d) that are in fluid communication with the thermal fluid to heat these components from the inside out. For example, the contacting portion 160 can include fluid passages 162a and the annular support ring 161 can include fluid passages 162b through which the thermal fluid can pass to heat the contacting portion 160 and the annular support ring 161, respectively. The rotor 142 can include fluid passages 162c and the support member seal 141 can include fluid passages 162d configured to perform a similar function. In one aspect of this embodiment, the heated fluid can be provided to any or all of the fluid passages 162 in lieu of providing the heated fluid to the internal region 148. Alternatively, heated fluid can be provided to the fluid passages 162 and to the internal region 148 of the support member 140. In one aspect of this embodiment, the characteristics (such as temperature and flow rate) of the fluid provided to the fluid passages 162 can be controlled independently of the characteristics of the fluid provided to the internal region 148 via the conduits 163 and 164. In any of these embodiments, the heated fluid can reduce and/or eliminate the likelihood for forming condensation on the components through which and/or near which the heated fluid passes. By reducing the formation of condensation, embodiments of the invention can reduce the likelihood for liquids and/or solids to fall from the support member 140 into the processing liquid, and can reduce and/or eliminate the likelihood for solid contaminants to become encrusted on the support member 140, which can interfere with its operation. In still a further aspect of these embodiments, the fluid can be selectively directed toward and/or through some components during some phases of the plating process and other components (or no components) during other phases of the plating process depending, for example, on whether and when each component is subject to condensation.

[0046] FIG. 6 is a partially schematic, cross-sectional side view of the support member 140 having a heat transfer unit 670 in accordance with another embodiment of the invention. In one aspect of this embodiment, the heat transfer unit 670 can include one or more infrared radiation sources 671 (three are shown in FIG. 6 as infrared radiation sources 671a-c). In a further aspect of this embodiment, the infrared radiation sources 671 can be positioned in the rotor 142 proximate to a contacting portion 660 and an annular support ring 661 of the support member 140. Alternatively, the infrared radiation sources 671 can be positioned proximate to other components of the support member 140 to heat those components. When the infrared radiation sources 671 are positioned proximate to the contacting portion 660 and the annular support ring 661, both the contacting portion 660 and the annular support ring 661 can be opaque. Accordingly, the outer infrared radiation sources 671a and 671c can heat the annular support ring 661 directly and can heat the contacting portion 660 indirectly via conduction through the annular support ring 661. The central infrared radiation source 671b can heat a central region of the contacting portion 660 directly by radiation.

[0047] In an alternate embodiment, the annular support ring 661 can include support ring windows 665a that can allow radiation to pass directly to the contacting portion 660 to more directly heat the contacting portion 660. In still a further embodiment, the contacting portion 660 can include contacting portion windows 665b that allow radiation emitted from the infrared radiation sources 671 to impinge on and heat the microelectronic workpiece 101. Heating the microelectronic workpiece 101 can have benefits (for example, in the context of electroless processing) in addition to reducing the likelihood for condensation formation, as described in greater detail below with reference to FIGS. 8-13. In still further embodiments, the support member 140 can include other infrared radiation sources positioned to directly or indirectly heat other components, such as the support member seal 141 and/or the ring seal 144.

[0048] FIG. 7 is a partially schematic, cross-sectional side view of a support member 140 having an electrical resistance heat transfer unit 770 in accordance with another embodiment of the invention. For example, the support member seal 141 can include a conductive material 774a at or beneath the surface of the support member seal 141 that is connected with leads 772a to a power supply 773. The conductive material 774a can be configured to form a pattern of conductive traces in one embodiment, or, alternatively, the conductive material 774a can have other arrangements. In any of these embodiments, the conductive material 774a can function as a resistive heater by increasing in temperature when an electrical current passes through it. The heat generated at the conductive material 774a can heat the support member seal 141 to reduce the likelihood for forming condensation on the support member seal 141.

[0049] In other embodiments, other components of the support member 140 can also include conductive material and can also be heated by electrical resistance heating. For example, the rotor 142 can include a conductive material 774b and can be coupled to the power supply 773 with leads 772b. In one embodiment, the leads 772b can be coupled to the electrical cables 147 that supply power to the contact assembly 143. Alternatively, the leads 772b can be arranged to be independent of the power supplied to the contact assembly 143. In either of these embodiments, the leads can be coupled to a source of electrical current through the rotary interface 152 (FIG. 4).

[0050] In another embodiment, the contacting portion 160 and/or the annular support ring 161 can include a conductive layer 774c configured to receive electrical current via leads 772a and heat up in a manner generally similar to that described above. In still a further aspect of this embodiment, the contact assembly 143 can also be coupled to a source of electrical current to heat up resistively when current is passed through it. In one aspect of this embodiment, the contact assembly 143 can heat up when electrical current is passed through it during processing, i.e., when the contact assembly 143 is acting as an anode or a cathode. Alternatively, the contact assembly 143 can have two isolated electrical circuits, with one circuit dedicated to supplying electrical current to the microelectronic workpiece 101 and the other circuit dedicated to resistively heating the portion of the contact assembly 143 through which the second circuit passes. In other embodiments, the components described above can be electrically heated with other arrangements.

[0051] Many or all of the arrangements described above with reference to FIGS. 5-7 in the context of an electrolytic processing chamber can also be applied to an electroless processing chamber to reduce the likelihood for forming condensation on components of the electroless processing chamber. Furthermore, as described in greater detail below with reference to FIGS. 8-13, components of the electroless processing chamber can also be configured to heat the microelectronic workpiece itself.

[0052] FIG. 8 is a partially schematic, cross-sectional side view of a processing station 810 configured for electroless processing in accordance with an embodiment of the invention. In one aspect of this embodiment, the processing station 810 can include a vessel 830 having a processing portion 835 configured to receive an electroless processing fluid through a supply valve assembly 880a. A fluid heater 883 (shown schematically on FIG. 8) can be coupled in fluid communication with the supply valve assembly 880a to heat the fluid entering the vessel 830. In one embodiment, the fluid can be heated to a temperature of about 50° C. to about 80° C. (for example, to electrolessly plate nickel or copper) and in other embodiments, the fluid can be heated to other temperatures. The processing portion 835 can include a weir 833 over which the processing fluid spills into a circumferentially extending overflow channel 836. The overflow channel 836 can be coupled to a waste valve assembly 880b via an overflow conduit 838 to remove processing fluid from the processing station 810. The processing fluid can be disposed of or returned to the vessel 830.

[0053] In one aspect of this embodiment, the supply valve assembly 880a can include three supply valves 881 (two of which are visible in FIG. 8) to supply three different processing fluids during different phases of the operation of the processing station 810. A drain valve 882 can be positioned beneath the supply valves 881 to more completely drain the supply valve assembly 880a. The waste valve assembly 880b can have an arrangement generally similar to that of the supply valve assembly 880a to return the different processing fluids to the appropriate reservoirs (not shown).

[0054] In one embodiment, the processing station 810 can include an exhaust conduit 837 positioned to remove gaseous waste products when the support member 140 (shown in outline in FIG. 8) is received in the vessel 830. In one aspect of this embodiment, the support member 140 can be generally similar to the support member 140 described above with reference to FIG. 4, but need not include the contact assembly 143 (FIG. 4). Accordingly, the support member 140 can support the microelectronic workpiece 101 in contact with the electroless processing fluid in the vessel 830.

[0055] In one embodiment, the vessel 830 can include one or more infrared radiation sources 871 positioned to direct infrared radiation through infrared transmissive windows 875 and toward the microelectronic workpiece 101. In operation, the support member 140 can support the microelectronic workpiece 101 just above the fluid in the vessel 830 while the infrared radiation sources 871 irradiate the microelectronic workpiece 101 through the processing fluid 835 and elevate its temperature. Optionally, the fluid within the processing portion 835 can also be heated. When the microelectronic workpiece 101 and the fluid in the processing portion 835 are at approximately the same temperature, the support member 140 can lower the microelectronic workpiece 101 into contact with the fluid for electrolessly processing the microelectronic workpiece 101. Alternatively, the infrared radiation sources 871 can operate in other manners to heat the microelectronic workpiece 101.

[0056] One advantage of heating the microelectronic workpiece 101 is that the processing fluid immediately adjacent to the microelectronic workpiece 101 will be less likely to cool down when the microelectronic workpiece 101 and the processing fluid are brought into contact with each other. Accordingly, the electroless process conducted in the processing station 810 can more easily be conducted at a controlled (e.g., constant and uniform) and/or optimal temperature.

[0057] Another advantage of the foregoing arrangement described above with reference to FIG. 8 is that heating the microelectronic workpiece 101 may reduce and/or eliminate the need for heating the processing fluid. For example, the volume of fluid in the vessel 830 can be relatively small to reduce the heat sink effect of the fluid on the microelectronic workpiece 101. The rate at which heat is supplied to the microelectronic workpiece 101 can be sufficient to create at least a layer of heated processing fluid adjacent to the microelectronic workpiece 101. Accordingly, the processing station 810 can be simplified and/or the likelihood for forming condensation from the heated processing fluid can be reduced and/or eliminated.

[0058] FIGS. 9-13 schematically illustrate portions of support members configured to heat the microelectronic workpiece 101 in accordance with other embodiments of the invention. Referring first to FIG. 9, a support member 940 can include a rotor 942 coupled to a contacting portion 960 with a seal 966. The contacting portion 960 can include a securement device 990 configured to releasably receive the microelectronic workpiece 101. In one embodiment, the securement device 990 can include one or more clamps 991 and in other embodiments the securement device 990 can include other features, such as vacuum channels, as described in greater detail below with reference to FIG. 12.

[0059] In one embodiment, the support member 940 can include a heat transfer unit 970 that has a heater 969 for heating the microelectronic workpiece 101. In one aspect of this embodiment, the contacting portion 960 can have a recess in which the heater 969 is positioned. Accordingly, the contacting portion 960 in conjunction with the seal 966 can function as a shield to prevent direct contact between the heater 969 and the processing fluid in the vessel 830 (FIG. 8). In further aspect of this embodiment, the heater 969 can include conductive traces 978 coupled to a power source 973 to resistively heat the heater 969, the contacting portion 960, and the microelectronic workpiece 101. The conductive traces 978 can be formed on a ceramic or other substrate using commercially available techniques, such as thin film or thick film techniques, or the traces 978 can be embedded in a substrate, such as a ceramic substrate.

[0060] In one aspect of this embodiment, the conductive traces 978 can face upwardly and can be spaced apart from the downwardly facing surface 943 of the rotor 942 by a gap to at least reduce the likelihood for directly heating the rotor 942. In yet a further aspect of this embodiment, a generally thermally nonconductive gas can be directed to an interface region between the rotor 942 and the heater 969 to thermally isolate the heater 969 from the rotor 942. Alternatively, other media can provide for thermal insulation between the heater 969 and the rotor 942. In any of these embodiments, insulating the upper surface of the heater 969 can increase the amount of heat directed to the microelectronic workpiece 101. Alternatively, at least some of the heat generated by the heater 969 can be conveyed to the rotor 942, for example, to reduce the likelihood for forming condensation on the rotor 942, as described above with reference to FIGS. 4-7.

[0061] In any of the embodiments described above with reference to FIG. 9, the power source 973 can be coupled to a heater controller 977 to control the electrical current applied to the heater 969. In one aspect of this embodiment, a temperature sensor 976a (such as an IR sensor) can be positioned beneath the microelectronic workpiece 101 to monitor the temperature of the microelectronic workpiece 101 and adjust the current applied to the heater 969 accordingly. For example, the temperature sensor 976a can be positioned to detect the temperature of the microelectronic workpiece 101 through a window generally similar to the windows 875 described above with reference to FIG. 8. Alternatively, temperature sensors 976b can be positioned in the contacting portion 960 proximate to the microelectronic workpiece 101. In still another alternate embodiment, a temperature sensor 976c can be coupled directly to the heater 969. In any of these embodiments, the temperature sensors 976a, 976b and/or 976c can be coupled to the heater controller 977 to provide a thermostat function.

[0062] In one embodiment, the conductive traces 978 of the heater 969 can form a single conductive circuit. In another embodiment, the conductive traces 978 can form a plurality of circuits, for example, to heat different regions of the contacting portion 960 at different rates. For example, as shown in FIG. 10A, the heater 969 can include two inner circuits 978a that can be coupled to the power source 973 (FIG. 9) independently of two outer circuits 978b. In one aspect of this embodiment, for example, when the outer region of the contacting portion 960 (FIG. 9) loses heat at a greater rate than the inner region, the outer circuits 978b of the heater 969 can provide heat at a greater rate than the inner circuits 978a. In other embodiments, the heater 969 can have other multiple-circuit or spatially varying heater arrangements.

[0063] In any of the foregoing embodiments, the independently controlled portions of the heater 969 can be controlled to provide a uniform temperature profile at the surface of the microelectronic workpiece 101. In another aspect of these embodiments, the independently controlled portions of the heater 969 are controlled to provide a spatially varying temperature profile across the surface of the microelectronic workpiece 101. For example, as shown in FIG. 10B, the support member 940 include a plurality of annularly disposed sections or regions 1071 (three are shown in FIG. 10B as an inner section 1071a, an intermediate section 1071b and an outer section 1071c) in one embodiment. In one aspect of this embodiment, each section 1071 includes a plurality of traces generally similar to those described above. In another aspect of this embodiment, each section 1071 is coupled to an independent controller 1077 (shown as independent controllers 1077a-1077c) to allow the temperature distribution of the microelectronic workpiece 101 to be established in accordance with any of the manners described above. In other embodiments, the heater 969 has more or fewer independently controllable sections 1071. In one aspect of any of these embodiments, the temperature of one portion of the microelectronic workpiece 101 is set to provide a higher material application rate than at other sections of the microelectronic workpiece 101. Accordingly, the microelectronic workpiece 101 can have an “edge thick” profile (if material is preferentially applied to the periphery of the workpiece 101) or “center thick” profile (if material is preferentially applied to the center of the workpiece 101). In other embodiments, the workpiece 101 receives other material application distributions. Further details of spatially varying heater arrangements are described in U.S. patent application Ser. No. 09/733,608, previously incorporated herein by reference.

[0064] FIG. 11 is a partially schematic, cross-sectional side view of a portion of the support member 940 and the contacting portion 960. The support member 940 can include a heat transfer unit 1170 which has a power supply 973 coupled to a heater 1169. In one aspect of this embodiment, the heater 1169 can have downwardly facing conductive traces 1178. Accordingly, the conductive traces 1178 can form a more intimate thermal connection with the contacting portion 960. In one aspect of this embodiment, the conductive traces 1178 can be positioned more closely together than the conductive traces 978 described above with reference to FIG. 9 to reduce the likelihood for cold spots or other thermal distortions in the contacting portion 960.

[0065] FIG. 12 is a partially schematic, cross-sectional side view of the support member 940 having a securement device 1290 in accordance with another embodiment of the invention. In one aspect of this embodiment, the securement device 1290 can include a vacuum conduit 1292 positioned in fluid communication with the contacting portion 960 and coupleable to a vacuum source (not shown). The vacuum conduit 1292 can be coupled to a vacuum manifold 1293 which is in turn coupled to a plurality of vacuum channels 1294. Accordingly, the vacuum channels 1294 can draw the microelectronic workpiece 101 into engagement with the contacting portion 960. In one aspect of this embodiment, the vacuum channels 1294 can be relatively few and far between so as not to interfere with the ability of the heater 969 to uniformly heat the microelectronic workpiece 101. The vacuum securement device 1290 can also be used in addition to or in lieu of any of the securement devices shown and/or described with reference to other embodiments of the invention.

[0066] FIG. 13 is a partially schematic, cross-sectional side view of a support member 1340 having a rotor 1342 and a heat transfer unit 1370 with a heater 1369 in accordance with another embodiment of the invention. In one aspect of this embodiment, the rotor 1342 can include clamps 1360 that draw the microelectronic workpiece 101 into direct engagement with the heater 1369. The heater 1369 can include traces 1378 generally similar to those described above. The heater 1369 can further include a fluid-tight coating 1374 to isolate the conductive traces 1378 from contact with the processing fluid. Conductive leads 1372 extend between the conductive traces 1378 and the power source 973. One or more seals 1379 can be positioned at an interface between the conductive leads 1372 and the conductive traces 1378 to at least reduce the likelihood for moisture to come in to contact with this interface.

[0067] In one aspect of at least some of the foregoing embodiments, the microelectronic workpiece 101 is supported at a relatively low number of locations to reduce the likelihood for heat to be transferred away from the microelectronic workpiece 101, and/or to reduce the surface area of the microelectronic workpiece 101 covered by the supporting devices. For example, as shown in FIG. 14A, an embodiment of a support member 1440 includes a rotor 1442 coupled to a motor 155 (FIG. 4) with a shaft 1451. The support member 1440 includes a securement device 1490 that, in one embodiment, includes four actuated clamps 1491.

[0068] FIG. 14B is a cross-sectional side elevation view of a portion of the support member 1440 shown in FIG. 14A, taken substantially along lines 14B-14B. In one embodiment, each clamp 1491 includes a finger 1492 coupled to an actuation linkage 1494 to rotate inwardly and outwardly, as indicated by arrow P. In one aspect of this embodiment, the finger 1492 includes a slot 1496 bounded on one side by a head 1497 and on the other side by a beveled edge 1495. A plurality of standoffs 1493 are positioned proximate to the fingers 1492.

[0069] To load the microelectronic workpiece 101 onto the support member 1440, the support member 1440 is rotated to its upward facing position (as described above with reference to FIG. 2) and the microelectronic workpiece 101 is placed on the standoffs 1493, with the fingers 1492 rotated outwardly away from the standoffs 1493. The fingers 1492 are then rotated inwardly until the microelectronic workpiece 101 is received in the slots 1496. As the fingers 1492 rotate inwardly toward the microelectronic workpiece 101, the beveled edges 1495 of the fingers 1492 lift the microelectronic workpiece 101 off the standoffs. The support member 1440 is then inverted to the position shown in FIG. 14B.

[0070] A support member 1440 having a configuration generally similar to that described above with reference to FIG. 14B can be suitable for an embodiment of the apparatus in which the rear surface of the microelectronic workpiece 101 (i.e., the upward facing surface shown in FIG. 14B) is spaced apart from the support member 1440. In other embodiments, for example, those described above with reference to FIGS. 9-13, the microelectronic workpiece 101 is positioned in intimate contact with the support member 1440 to enhance the thermal communication between the support member 1440 and the microelectronic workpiece 101. Accordingly, in another embodiment shown in FIG. 14C, the support member 1440 includes a contacting portion 1460 having a heater 1469, and a plurality of clamps 1491a that draw the microelectronic workpiece 101 against the contacting portion 1460. In one aspect of this embodiment, the clamps 1491a include fingers 1492a having heads 1497a with beveled edges 1495a that draw the microelectronic workpiece 101 against the contacting portion 1460 as they rotate inwardly to secure the microelectronic workpiece 101.

[0071] In one aspect of the embodiments described above with reference to FIGS. 14A-14C, the microelectronic workpiece 101 are secured at only a few, peripheral locations, for example, four locations. An advantage of this feature is that only the edges of the microelectronic workpiece 101 are contacted, reducing the likelihood for blocking material deposition on the front surface of the microelectronic workpiece 101. A further advantage is that the relatively low number of contact locations can reduce the amount of heat transferred away from the microelectronic workpiece 101 during, processing, and can accordingly increase the thermal uniformity of the microelectronic workpiece 101. Still a further advantage is that the workpiece 101 can quickly equilibrate with the temperature of the processing fluid, particularly when the workpiece 101 is rotated.

[0072] From the foregoing, it will be appreciated that specific embodiments of the invention have been described herein for purposes of illustration, but that various modifications may be made without deviating from the spirit and scope of the invention. For example, many or all of the features of at least some of the embodiments described above can be combined in further embodiments. Many of the methods and apparatuses described above in the context of electroless processing are applicable to electrolytic processing in other embodiments of the invention. Accordingly, the invention is not limited except as by the appended claims.