Title:
PROCESS CHAMBER AND LOAD-LOCK SPLIT FRAME CONSTRUCTION
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
The present invention generally relates to a split frame assembly for supporting a chamber in a processing system. In order to adequately fit into the body of an airplane for transport, the frame may be split into two pieces. Once split, each piece may individually be loaded onto the airplane. The upper piece may comprise all of the various components necessary to operate the chamber including gas panels, control panels, or other panels. The lower piece may support the upper piece.



Inventors:
Anwar, Suhail (San Jose, CA, US)
Stegall, Eric (San Martin, CA, US)
Tiner, Robin L. (Santa Cruz, CA, US)
Jozwiak, Janusz (San Ramon, CA, US)
Vancas, Philip (Modesto, CA, US)
Application Number:
12/040284
Publication Date:
11/27/2008
Filing Date:
02/29/2008
Primary Class:
International Classes:
E04B1/19
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
WOOD, KIMBERLY T
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
PATTERSON & SHERIDAN, LLP - - APPLIED MATERIALS (HOUSTON, TX, US)
Claims:
1. A split frame chamber support, comprising: a lower frame having a plurality of first supporting posts; one or more aligning mechanisms coupled with one or more first supporting posts; one or more first flanges protruding from and coupled with one or more of the first supporting posts; and an upper frame coupled with the lower frame.

2. The support of claim 1, wherein each first supporting post comprises a center axis and where each aligning mechanism comprises two upwardly extending flanges that protrude from each first supporting post at an angle relative to the center axis.

3. The support of claim 1, wherein the upper frame further comprises one or more second flanges coupled with the one or more first flanges.

4. The support of claim 3, further comprising: one or more fastening mechanisms extending through the one or more first flanges and the one or more second flanges.

5. The support of claim 4, wherein the one or more second flanges has threaded openings therethrough for receiving the one or more fastening mechanisms.

6. The support of claim 1, wherein the upper frame further comprises a plurality of second supporting posts, and wherein at least one second support post has at least three connection rails coupled thereto with each connection rail coupled at a different elevation.

7. The support of claim 1, wherein each first supporting posts has a center axis and wherein the one or more first flanges extend from the first supporting posts perpendicular to the center axis.

8. An apparatus, comprising: a lower frame having a plurality of first supporting posts; one or more aligning mechanisms coupled with one or more first supporting posts; one or more first flanges protruding from and coupled with one or more of the first supporting posts; an upper frame coupled with the lower frame; and a chamber coupled with the upper frame.

9. The apparatus of claim 8, wherein the chamber comprises a processing chamber, a load lock chamber, or a transfer chamber.

10. The apparatus of claim 9, wherein the processing chamber comprises a plasma enhanced chemical vapor deposition chamber or a physical vapor deposition chamber.

11. The apparatus of claim 8, wherein each first supporting post comprises a center axis and where each aligning mechanism comprises two upwardly extending flanges that protrude from each first supporting post at an angle relative to the center axis.

12. The apparatus of claim 8, wherein the upper frame further comprises one or more second flanges coupled with the one or more first flanges.

13. The apparatus of claim 12, wherein further comprising: one or more fastening mechanisms extending through the one or more first flanges and the one or more second flanges.

14. The apparatus of claim 8, wherein each first supporting posts has a center axis and wherein the one or more first flanges extend from the first supporting posts perpendicular to the center axis.

15. The apparatus of claim 8, wherein the upper frame further comprises a plurality of second supporting posts, and wherein at least one second support post has at least three connection rails coupled thereto with each connection rail coupled at a different elevation.

16. The apparatus of claim 8, further comprising: a gas panel disposed within the upper frame.

17. The apparatus of claim 8, further comprising: a control panel disposed within the upper frame.

18. A split frame support, comprising: a lower frame, the lower frame comprising: a plurality of first supporting posts extending along parallel center axis; one or more first connection rails extending between adjacent first supporting posts, the one or more of the first connection rails detachably coupled with two of the first supporting posts; a coupling flange coupled with each first supporting post, the coupling flange extending perpendicular to the center axis; and one or more alignment mechanisms, the alignment mechanisms coupled to a first supporting post and extending from the first supporting post at an angle relative to the center axis; and an upper frame coupled to the lower frame, the upper frame comprising: a plurality of second supporting posts each extending along separate second center axis equal to a center axis of a corresponding center axis of a first supporting post, at least one second support post has at least three second connection rails coupled thereto with each second connection rail coupled at a different elevation.

19. The support of claim 18, wherein the upper frame further comprises one or more second flanges coupled with the one or more first flanges.

20. The support of claim 19, wherein the one or more second flanges has threaded openings therethrough for receiving the one or more fastening mechanisms.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application claims benefit of U.S. Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 60/892,474 (APPM/011877L), entitled “Process Chamber and Load-Lock Split Frame Construction”, filed Mar. 1, 2007, which is herein incorporated by reference.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

Embodiments of the present invention generally relate to a split frame assembly that may be used to support a chamber.

2. Description of the Related Art

To fabricate larger flat panel displays out of a single substrate, a larger processing chamber may be necessary to fabricate the flat panel displays. Numerous consecutive processes may be performed on the substrates from which the flat panel displays are made. When multiple processes are performed consecutively upon a substrate, it may be beneficial to couple multiple processing chambers onto a common transfer chamber. The transfer chamber may receive the substrates from a load lock chamber and then transfer the substrates to one or more processing chambers. The various chambers, including process chambers, load lock chambers, and transfer chambers, may be coupled together in a factory to create an organized processing system. Therefore, there is a need in the art for a support for the various chambers in a processing system.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention generally relates to a split frame assembly for supporting a chamber in a processing system. In order to adequately fit into the body of an airplane for transport, the frame may be split into two pieces. Once split, each piece may individually be loaded onto the airplane. The upper piece may comprise all of the various components necessary to operate the chamber including gas panels, control panels, or other panels. The lower piece may support the upper piece.

In one embodiment, a split frame chamber support is disclosed. The support comprises a lower frame having a plurality of first supporting posts, one or more aligning mechanisms coupled with one or more first supporting posts, one or more first flanges protruding from and coupled with one or more of the first supporting posts, and an upper frame coupled with the lower frame.

In another embodiment, an apparatus is disclosed. The apparatus comprises a lower frame having a plurality of first supporting posts, one or more aligning mechanisms coupled with one or more first supporting posts, one or more first flanges protruding from and coupled with one or more of the first supporting posts, an upper frame coupled with the lower frame, and a chamber coupled with the upper frame.

In still another embodiment, a split frame support is disclosed. The support comprises a lower frame and an upper frame coupled to the lower frame. The lower frame comprises a plurality of first supporting posts extending along a parallel center axis, one or more first connection rails extending between adjacent first supporting posts, one or more of the first connection rails detachably coupled with two of the first supporting posts, a coupling flange coupled with each first supporting post, the coupling flange extending perpendicular to the center axis, and one or more alignment mechanisms, the alignment mechanisms coupled to a first supporting post and extending from the first supporting post at an angle relative to the center axis. The upper frame comprises a plurality of second supporting posts each extending along separate second center axis equal to a center axis of a corresponding center axis of a first supporting post, wherein at least one second support post has at least three second connection rails coupled thereto with each second connection rail coupled at a different elevation.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

So that the manner in which the above recited features of the present invention can be understood in detail, a more particular description of the invention, briefly summarized above, may be had by reference to embodiments, some of which are illustrated in the appended drawings. It is to be noted, however, that the appended drawings illustrate only typical embodiments of this invention and are therefore not to be considered limiting of its scope, for the invention may admit to other equally effective embodiments.

FIG. 1 is a prospective view of a split frame support assembly exploded according to one embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 2 is a prospective view of the split frame support assembly of FIG. 1 assembled.

FIG. 3 is a cross sectional view of a coupling between an upper frame and a lower frame according to one embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 4 is a cross sectional view of a coupling between an upper frame and a lower frame according to another embodiment of the invention.

To facilitate understanding, identical reference numerals have been used, where possible, to designate identical elements that are common to the figures. It is contemplated that elements disclosed in one embodiment may be beneficially utilized on other embodiments without specific recitation.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

The present invention generally relates to a split frame assembly for supporting a chamber in a processing system. In order to adequately fit into the body of an airplane for transport, the frame may be split into two pieces. Once split, each piece may individually be loaded onto the airplane. The upper piece may comprise all of the various components necessary to operate the chamber including gas panels, control panels, or other panels. The lower piece may support the upper piece.

The present invention will be described below with reference to processing chambers such as a plasma enhanced chemical vapor deposition (PECVD) chamber or a physical vapor deposition (PVD) chamber, and with reference to load lock chambers. Processing chambers, load lock chambers, and transfer chambers which may be supported on the split frame support described herein are available from AKT, a subsidiary of Applied Materials, Inc., Santa Clara, Calif. It is contemplated that the split frame support described herein may be used to support other processing chambers, other load lock chambers, and other transfer chambers including those supplied by other manufacturers.

FIG. 1 is a prospective view of a split frame support assembly 100 exploded according to one embodiment of the invention. FIG. 2 is a prospective view of the split frame support assembly 100 of FIG. 1 assembled. The assembly 100 may comprise an upper frame portion 102 and a lower frame portion 104. Coupled to the upper frame portion 102 may be a chamber 106 (shown in phantom). In one embodiment, the chamber 106 may be a processing chamber. In another embodiment, the chamber may be a load lock assembly. In another embodiment, the chamber may be a transfer chamber. In yet another embodiment, the chamber 106 may be a PECVD chamber. In still another embodiment, the chamber 106 may be a PVD chamber.

The lower frame assembly 104 may comprise a plurality of support posts 108 that may rest on the ground and extend vertically. Each of the support posts 108 has a center axis that is parallel to the center axis of the other support posts 108. In one embodiment, the support posts 108 may be coupled together by connection rails 114 that may extend between the support posts 108. In one embodiment, the connection rails 114 and the support posts 108 may comprise steel. In another embodiment, the connection rails 114 and the support posts 108 may comprise hollow tubes.

One or more of the connection rails 114 may be removable from the lower frame assembly 104. The removable connection rail 114 may be disposed on a side of the assembly 100 opposite a slit valve (not shown) coupled with the chamber 106. The connection rails 114 may be coupled to the support posts 108 by any well known coupling mechanism such as welding, soldering, nut and bolt assembly, etc. One or more flanges 112 may extend from the support post 108. The flanges 112 may couple the upper frame portion 102 to the lower frame portion 104.

At the top of each of the support posts 108, an alignment mechanism 110 may be present. The alignment mechanisms 110 may be angled relative to the center axis of the support posts 108. The alignment mechanisms 110 may comprise two flanges that are each angled outward from the support post 108. The angled alignment members 110 permit the upper frame portion 102 to slide into place when the upper frame portion 102 is lowered onto the lower frame assembly 104. When assembling the upper frame portion 102 to the lower frame portion 104, the upper frame portion 102 may be significantly large and thus necessitate the use of a crane to dispose the upper frame portion 102 onto the lower frame portion 104. The alignment mechanisms 110 may provide precise placement of the upper frame portion 102 on the lower frame portion 104. The alignment mechanisms 110 may permit the upper frame portion 102 to slide into place during placement onto the lower frame portion 104 even when the upper frame portion 102 is misaligned as it is lowered onto the lower frame portion 104.

The upper frame portion 102 may comprise a plurality of support posts 116. The support posts 116 may each comprise a central axis that is parallel to the other support posts 116. When the upper frame portion 102 is coupled with the lower frame portion 104, the center axis of each support post 116 may align with the central axis of a corresponding support post 108 of the lower frame portion 104.

The bottom of the support posts 116 may be coupled together by a plurality of lower connection rails 118. The top of the support posts 116 may be coupled together by a plurality of top connection rails 120. One additional connection rail 122 may be at a lower elevation than the top connection rails 120 and at a higher elevation than the lower connection rails 118 to accommodate a slit valve assembly (not shown) if necessary. Thus, two of the support posts 116 have three connection rails 118, 120, 122 coupled to the support post 116 at different elevations. The connection rails 118, 120, 122 may be coupled to the support posts 116 by any well known coupling mechanism such as welding, soldering, nut and bolt assembly, etc. In one embodiment, the connection rails 118, 120, 122 and the support posts 116 may comprise steel. In another embodiment, the connection rails 118, 120, 122 and the support posts 116 may comprise hollow tubes.

A power box and/or control panel 124 (hereinafter referred to as a control panel 124) and a gas panel 126 may be disposed within the upper frame portion 102. The control panel 124 may be supported within the upper frame portion 102 by a control panel support 128 that may be coupled to the lower connection rails 118. A flange 130 may be disposed proximate the bottom of the support posts 116 for coupling to the flange 112 disposed on the lower frame portion 104.

The split frame assembly 100 permits the lower frame portion 104, the upper frame portion 102, and the chamber 106 to be separately shipped and then assembled on site. The lower frame portion 104 may, if desired, be disassembled into its individual components and then assembled on site. In one embodiment, all of the control features such as a gas panel 126 and any control panels 124 may be disposed entirely within the upper frame portion 104. In a second embodiment, control features may be disposed in both the lower frame portion 104 and the upper frame portion 102. In the second embodiment, the control features in the lower frame portion 104 and the upper frame portion 102 may be easily connected upon assembly of the upper frame portion 102 to the lower frame portion 104.

FIG. 3 is a cross sectional view of a coupling between an upper frame and a lower frame according to one embodiment of the invention. The lower frame may comprise one or more support posts 308 coupled to adjacent support posts 308 by a connection rail 314. The upper frame may comprise a plurality of support posts 316 coupled to adjacent support posts 316 by a connection rail 318. The upper frame may be disposed onto the lower frame in substantially perfect alignment by permitting the upper frame to slide down the angled alignment mechanisms 310 coupled with the lower frame.

The upper frame and the lower frame may be coupled together by a flange 312 coupled to the lower frame and a flange 330 coupled to the upper frame. The flange 312 coupled to the lower frame may extend perpendicularly from the center axis of the support post 308. Similarly, the flange 330 may extend perpendicularly from the support post 316. One or more fastening mechanisms 332 may be used to couple flange 312 to flange 330. In one embodiment, the fastening mechanisms 332 may comprise a bolt. When a bolt is used as the fastening mechanism 332, the flange 330 may have a threaded through hole to receive the threaded portion of the bolt. Additionally, for added fastening strength, a lower portion of connection rail 318 may have a threaded hole therethrough for receiving the bolt.

FIG. 4 is a cross sectional view of a coupling between an upper frame and a lower frame according to another embodiment of the invention. The lower frame may comprise one or more support posts 408 coupled to adjacent support posts 408 by a connection rail 414. The upper frame may comprise a plurality of support posts 416 coupled to adjacent support posts 416 by a connection rail 418. The upper frame may be disposed onto the lower frame in substantially perfect alignment by permitting the upper frame to slide down the angled alignment mechanisms 410 coupled with the lower frame.

The upper frame and the lower frame may be coupled together by a flange 412 coupled to the lower frame and a flange 430 coupled to the upper frame. The flange 412 coupled to the lower frame may extend perpendicularly from the center axis of the support post 408. Similarly, the flange 430 may extend perpendicularly from the support post 416. One or more coupling mechanisms 432 may be used to couple flange 412 to flange 430. In one embodiment, the coupling mechanisms 432 may comprise pins that extend from a bottom surface of the connection rail 418 and through receiving holes in both flanges 430, 412. In another embodiment, the coupling mechanisms 432 may comprise pins that extend from a bottom surface of flange 430 and through receiving holes in flange 412.

A split frame assembly may be useful for supporting processing chambers, load lock chambers, or transfer chambers. The split frame assembly may permit large, preassembled sections of a processing apparatus to be shipped together on an airplane. Once on-site, the sections may be easily assembled.

While the foregoing is directed to embodiments of the present invention, other and further embodiments of the invention may be devised without departing from the basic scope thereof, and the scope thereof is determined by the claims that follow.