Icons were conceived in the visual language of the customer; in the
vernacular of the semiconductor fab.
I will describe the complete family of Icons used for one product,
Brooks' Vacu-Tran Robot, that communicate benefits delivered by
that product to the customer.
cluster tool is a grouping of semiconductor vacuum process chambers; in
a cluster around a central wafer handling robot in its own vacuum
chamber. This is more than an arrangement to share one robot for
efficiency. Rather, the clustering enables a new category of
semiconductor processes that can only be performed as a concatenated
series of operations on one wafer without breaking vacuum. Brooks'
central robot sequences wafers into one process chamber after another,
without ever exposing the wafer to atmosphere.
icons are grouped into a cluster, just like the customer tools would be
grouped into a cluster.
product, Brooks' Vacu-Tran Robot
the Icon identifying the product, Brooks' Vacu-Tran Robot.
Icon represents the Brooks robot that transfers semiconductor wafers in a
in all of the Icons represents the characteristic shape of a cluster tool
the picture on the right is a Brooks Marathon 600 cluster tool, with a Brooks central
handling robot in the middle. The hexagonal configuration is typical; six sides
allowing for up to four process modules, with two faces (input and output) for vacuum
load-lock of cassettes of wafers.
vacuum valve on each face of the chamber provides inter-process
isolation (preventing cross-contamination), and ultimately withstands atmospheric pressure
during process chamber maintenance. Since each Brooks product is either a valved
cluster chamber or is used in one, the industry-standard vacuum valve symbol, a rectangle
around an "X," is incorporated into each icon identifying the
Icons include a representation of the customers' product, a semiconductor wafer;
round except for an orienting flat.
robot arm is a simple paddle for backside contact, because the
front side or edges of the semiconductor wafer cannot be touched. For example, the
wooden paddle used in a pizza parlor to position a pizza into its process chamber (oven)
is also a backside contact.
the Icons and the text were aligned with the customer needs, strictly in the
ranked order of customer requirements. Thus the graphics and words match
each other, and relate to the customer. Here, side-by-side, are the Icons
in ranked customer need, the text from Brooks' literature, and a layman's
explanation of the customer benefit.
pioneering Vacu Tran Robot provides ultra clean, ...
is the #1 ranked customer need.
devices are being made with ever smaller geometry. Smaller particles now cause
defects. Fortuitously, the laws of Physics cause particles to fall (to the bottom of
the chamber) in a vacuum, keeping the wafer clean.
the robot itself must be clean, operating without shedding particulates.
is the #2 ranked customer need.
demands tool reliability. The machine must be available for production, not torn
apart for maintenance.
importantly, every one of the processing chambers is down if the central wafer-handling
robot is down. Therefore, the robot must be the highest reliability component in the
transfer entirely within a vacuum envelope.
isolation is the #3 ranked customer need.
wafers in air, between process steps, grows an oxide layer precluding certain new
processes. Customers need a robot (you cannot use your hand in a vacuum) to transfer
wafers without breaking vacuum.
||The robot is
a primary component in Brooks wafer-handling systems.
customers are OEMs, who need the modularity and flexibility to be able to incorporate
Brooks products into their particular, unique product.
accurate placement, ...
accurate placement helps deliver consistent wafer processing and process uniformity.
demands high throughput, a high number of semiconductor wafers per hour.
capacity, and no edge contact.
wafers are surprisingly heavy, especially 300 mm wafers (nearly one foot in
diameter). Furthermore, some customers use these robots to process flat panel
displays (FPDs), ceramics, or other parts that are even heavier than semiconductor wafers.
mechanism is external to the vacuum envelope ...
semiconductor process tool is not producing product during the time that it is being
maintained. Ease-of-maintenance translates into getting the tool quickly back to producing wafers.
the drive mechanism external to the vacuum envelope means that it can be
accessed without breaking vacuum (time-consuming) and without
contaminating the vacuum chamber.