Lam Research Patent Grants

Methods and apparatuses for electroplating nickel using sulfur-free nickel anodes

Granted: August 15, 2017
Patent Number: 9732434
Disclosed herein are systems and methods for electroplating nickel which employ substantially sulfur-free nickel anodes. The methods may include placing a semiconductor substrate in a cathode chamber of an electroplating cell having an anode chamber containing a substantially sulfur-free nickel anode, contacting an electrolyte solution having reduced oxygen concentration with the substantially sulfur-free nickel anode contained in the anode chamber, and electroplating nickel from the…

System, method and apparatus for plasma etch having independent control of ion generation and dissociation of process gas

Granted: August 15, 2017
Patent Number: 9735020
A method of etching a wafer includes injecting a source gas mixture into a process chamber. The injecting includes injecting the source gas into multiple hollow cathode cavities in a top electrode, generating plasma in each of the cavities, and outputting the plasma from corresponding outlets of the cavities into a wafer processing region in the chamber, where the processing region is located between the outlets and a surface to be etched. An etchant gas mixture is injected into the…

Methods and apparatuses for estimating on-wafer oxide layer reduction effectiveness via color sensing

Granted: August 15, 2017
Patent Number: 9735035
Disclosed are methods of preparing a semiconductor substrate having a metal seed layer for a subsequent electroplating operation. In some embodiments, the methods may include contacting the surface of the semiconductor substrate with a plasma to treat the surface by reducing metal oxides thereon and thereafter measuring a post-plasma-contact color signal from said surface, the color signal having one or more color components. The methods may then further include estimating the extent of…

Method and apparatus for determining process rate

Granted: August 15, 2017
Patent Number: 9735069
A method for dry processing a substrate in a processing chamber is provided. The substrate is placed in the processing chamber. The substrate is dry processed, wherein the dry processing creates at least one gas byproduct. A concentration of the at least one gas byproduct is measured. The concentration of the at least one gas byproduct is used to determine processing rate of the substrate.

Method, apparatus, and system for establishing a virtual tether between a mobile device and a semiconductor processing tool

Granted: August 15, 2017
Patent Number: 9736135
A method for establishing a virtual tether between a mobile device and a semiconductor processing tool, the method including: obtaining, by a mobile device, a unique key associated with the semiconductor processing tool; establishing a unique pairing between the mobile device and the semiconductor processing tool based on the unique key that is obtained by the mobile device; in response to successfully establishing the unique pairing, authenticating a user of the mobile device for access…

Parasitic plasma prevention in plasma processing chambers

Granted: August 8, 2017
Patent Number: 9728429
Parasitic plasma in voids in a component of a plasma processing chamber can be eliminated by covering electrically conductive surfaces in an interior of the voids with a sleeve. The voids can be gas holes, lift pin holes, helium passages, conduits and/or plenums in chamber components such as an upper electrode and a substrate support.

Systems and methods for providing characteristics of an impedance matching model for use with matching networks

Granted: August 1, 2017
Patent Number: 9720022
Systems and methods for generating and using characteristics of an impedance matching model with different impedance matching networks are described impedances and/or power efficiencies are measured using a network analyzer or a sensor. The impedances and/or power efficiencies are used to determine the characteristics. With use of different impedance matching networks, the values of the characteristics are changed to achieve same or similar results across different plasma tools for a…

Systems and methods for providing gases to a process chamber

Granted: August 1, 2017
Patent Number: 9721763
A gas supply system for providing a plurality of process gases to a process chamber includes a plurality of mass flow controllers each arranged to receive a respective subset of the plurality of process gases. Each of the respective subsets includes more than one of the process gases, and at least one of the process gases is provided to more than one of the plurality of mass flow controllers. Respective valves are arranged upstream of each of the plurality of mass flow controllers to…

Method and apparatus for shaping a gas profile near bevel edge

Granted: August 1, 2017
Patent Number: 9721782
A method for etching a bevel edge of a substrate in a processing chamber is provided. The method includes flowing an inert gas into a center region of the processing chamber defined above a center region of the substrate and flowing a mixture of an inert gas and a processing gas over an edge region of the substrate. The method further includes striking a plasma in the edge region, wherein the flow of the inert gas and the flow of the mixture maintain a mass fraction of the processing gas…

Method of determining thermal stability of a substrate support assembly

Granted: July 25, 2017
Patent Number: 9716022
A method of determining thermal stability of an upper surface of a substrate support assembly comprises recording time resolved pre-process temperature data of the substrate before performing a plasma processing process while powering an array of thermal control elements to achieve a desired spatial and temporal temperature of the upper surface. A substrate is processed while powering the array of thermal control elements to achieve a desired spatial and temporal temperature of the upper…

Systems and methods for tuning an impedance matching network in a step-wise fashion for multiple states of an RF generator

Granted: July 18, 2017
Patent Number: 9711332
Systems and methods for tuning an impedance matching network in a step-wise fashion for each state are described. By tuning the impedance matching network in a step-wise fashion for each state instead of directly achieving optimum values of a radio frequency (RF) for each state and directly achieving an optimal value of a combined variable capacitance for each state, processing of a wafer using the tuned optimal values becomes feasible.

Shadow trim line edge roughness reduction

Granted: July 18, 2017
Patent Number: 9711359
A method for etching an etch layer in a stack over a substrate wherein the etch layer is under a mask layer which is under a patterned organic mask is provided. The stack and substrate is placed on a support in the plasma chamber. A silicon based layer is deposited in situ over the stack. The silicon based layer is etched to form silicon based sidewalls or spacers on sides of the patterned organic mask. The mask layer is selectively etched with respect to the silicon based sidewalls or…

System and method for monitoring temperatures of and controlling multiplexed heater array

Granted: July 18, 2017
Patent Number: 9713200
A system for measuring temperatures of and controlling a multi-zone heating plate in a substrate support assembly used to support a semiconductor substrate in a semiconductor processing includes a current measurement device and switching arrangements. A first switching arrangement connects power return lines selectively to an electrical ground, a voltage supply or an electrically isolated terminal, independent of the other power return lines. A second switching arrangement connects power…

System for instantaneous radiofrequency power measurement and associated methods

Granted: July 11, 2017
Patent Number: 9704692
Each of multiple plasma processing chambers has an RF power input line connected to receive RF power from a common RF power source. An RF control module is connected to distribute RF power from the common RF power source to the RF power input lines of the multiple chambers. A voltage sensor and a current sensor are connected to a corresponding RF power input line. Each voltage sensor measures an instantaneous electrical voltage present on its RF power input line. Each current sensor…

Corrosion sensor retainer assembly apparatus and method for detecting corrosion

Granted: July 11, 2017
Patent Number: 9704761
A corrosion sensor retainer assembly and method for predicting and detecting corrosion within a gas delivery system of a semiconductor substrate processing apparatus. The corrosion sensor retainer assembly comprises a laminate that includes a first insulating layer with a first port and a second insulating layer with a second port, wherein the first port and the second port are configured to retain a seal. The corrosion sensor retainer assembly includes a conductor housed within the…

Method for forming stair-step structures

Granted: July 4, 2017
Patent Number: RE46464
A method for forming a stair-step structure in a substrate is provided. An organic mask is formed over the substrate. A hardmask with a top layer and sidewall layer is formed over the organic mask. The sidewall layer of the hard mask is removed while leaving the top layer of the hardmask. The organic mask is trimmed. The hardmask is removed. The substrate is etched. The forming the hardmask, removing the sidewall layer, trimming the organic mask, and etching the substrate are repeated a…

Method and apparatus for physical confinement of a liquid meniscus over a semiconductor wafer

Granted: July 4, 2017
Patent Number: 9694453
Apparatus, methods and systems for physically confining a liquid medium applied over a semiconductor wafer include a chemical head. The chemical head including multiple first return conduits formed from a first flat region in a head surface and multiple second return conduits formed from a second flat region in the head surface. The second flat region being disposed immediately adjacent to the first flat region and the second flat region being in a plane substantially parallel to and…

Method and apparatus for processing wafer-shaped articles

Granted: July 4, 2017
Patent Number: 9698029
A method and device for processing wafer-shaped articles includes a spin chuck for holding and rotating a wafer-shaped article about a rotation axis, and at least one dispenser for dispensing a fluid onto at least one surface of a wafer-shaped article. A collector surrounds the spin chuck for collecting process fluids, with at least two collector levels for separately collecting fluids in different collector levels. Each collector level comprises an exhaust gas collecting chamber leading…

Microstructures for improved wafer handling

Granted: July 4, 2017
Patent Number: 9698035
Provided herein are high coefficient of friction contact surfaces for transfer of substrates including semiconductor wafers. In certain implementations, the contact surfaces include microstructures that exploit intermolecular surface forces for increased adhesion and friction in the x-y direction during substrate transfer, while allowing easy release in the z-direction without tilting the substrate. Also provided are robot end effectors including the contact surfaces and related…

Stacked wafer cassette loading system

Granted: July 4, 2017
Patent Number: 9698036
A substrate cassette loading system for docking substrate cassettes to a substrate processing system is provided. A plurality of ports passes substrates into the substrate processing system, wherein a first port of the plurality of ports is vertically above a second port of the plurality of ports. A plurality of cassette loaders provides substrate cassettes to the plurality of ports.