Patent application title: INSPECTION DEVICE
Michael Schilp (Regensburg, DE)
Josef Zimmermann (Regensburg, DE)
Adolf Zitzmann (Teunz, DE)
Zimmermann & Schilp Handhabungstechnik GMBH
IPC8 Class: AG01N2188FI
Class name: Optics: measuring and testing inspection of flaws or impurities surface condition
Publication date: 2012-12-27
Patent application number: 20120327402
The invention relates to a device for inspecting contact-sensitive planar
materials or workpieces, e.g. wafers for the semiconductor industry,
solar cells, glasses, FPD substrates, or biologically active substrates
for biosensors, as well as materials having contact-sensitive curved
surfaces. Said inspection device comprises a support element (1) for
supporting a material (3) on the top face of the support element (1), at
least one oscillator which is connected to the support element (1) and
the oscillation frequency and amplitude of which are selected in such a
way as to keep the material (3) hovering on the support element (1), and
at least one optical sensor (4). The support element is made of a
light-permeable material, and the optical sensor (4) is arranged below
the support element (1).
1. Inspection device which comprises: a support element (1) for
supporting a material (3) on the top side of the support element (1), at
least one oscillator connected to the support element (1), wherein the
oscillation frequency and amplitude of the oscillator are selected so as
to keep the material (3) levitating on the support element (1), and at
least one optical sensor, wherein the support element (1) is made of a
light-permeable material and the optical sensor is arranged below the
support element (1).
2. Inspection device according to claim 1, characterized in that the support element (1) is made of glass.
3. Inspection device according to claim 1, characterized in that the support element (1) is made of a light-permeable ceramic material.
4. Inspection device according to claim 1, characterized in that the support element (1) is made of an oscillatory light-permeable plastic material.
5. Transport and inspection device for materials which are to be transported and inspected and are moved along a transport path by using transport means, characterized in that an inspection device according to any of the claims 1 to 4 is arranged within the area of the transport path.
 The invention relates to a device for inspecting contact-sensitive
planar materials or work-pieces, e.g. wafers for the semiconductor
industry, solar cells, glasses, FPD substrates, or biologically active
substrates for biosensors, as well as materials having contact-sensitive
curved surfaces. In the following, every kind of material or work-piece
will be denoted as material. The surfaces of materials will be treated in
different working steps, wherein treatment shall be understood to be
working steps like vapor-deposition or structuring, for example.
Afterwards, the result of treatment will be inspected. Inspection can be
carried out by using a camera provided with an image recognition and
 Technologies assigned for the treatment of the top surface and also of the bottom surface of the materials require both these surfaces to be inspected. The top surface of material can be inspected easily, as the material is positioned on an inspection table or a conveyer belt so that there is a free view onto the top surface thereof. However, it is very difficult to inspect the bottom surface of material at the same time, as this surface is at least partly covered by sections of the support structure so that e.g. a camera is not capable of scanning all of this surface.
 For example, when a solar cell the bottom surface thereof being very sensitive to mechanical contact is transported, this solar cell is borne by several small conveyer belts. Therefore, only those areas of the bottom surface of the solar cell, which are not covered by the conveyer belts, can be inspected by a camera from below. However, when the total bottom surface of the solar cell is to be inspected, the solar cell must be removed from the conveyer belt, turned and again put onto the conveyer belt, but this is time-consuming and susceptible to trouble with continuously running processes.
 In order to solve these problems, according to the prior art, the transport path is subdivided into several segments separated from each other by gaps so that the material is delivered up by the single segments. As the material is not supported at the transfer gap, the total width thereof can be scanned. However, when the material to be transported is insufficiently stiff, there is the problem that the transfer gap has to be dimensioned very small. Now and then, it is not possible to perform scanning in an unhindered way.
 Therefore, it is an object of the invention to provide a technology for transporting contact-sensitive materials along a transport path and optically inspecting the bottom surfaces thereof totally without hindering the inspection to be carried out at those positions where the material is supported and thus, is covered.
 This object is solved by an inspection device according to claim 1 and a transport and inspection device according to claim 5.
 The invention according to claim 1 relates to an inspection device which comprises a support element for supporting a material to be inspected. An oscillator is connected to the support element to cause it to vibrate, wherein the oscillation frequency and the amplitude of which are selected so as to keep the material to be inspected hovering on the top side of the support element by ultrasonic levitation. The top surface of the support element is matched to the geometric shape of the bottom surface of the material.
 According to the invention, the support element is made of a light-permeable material to allow the bottom surface of the material levitating on the support element to be scanned optically, that is, to be inspected by means of an optical sensor such as a camera, an interferometer, a Speckle measuring instrument or a line scan camera.
 In this way, it is possible to keep contact-sensitive materials such as wafers or solar cells levitating during an inspection and to inspect the bottom surfaces thereof completely.
 Depending on the light used for the inspection, it may be expedient to make the support element of a material such as glass, light-permeable ceramic material, sapphire or oscillatory light-permeable plastic material, as defined in claims 2 to 4.
 It will be obvious to those skilled in the art that the optical properties of the support element are dependent on the material which it is made of, on the geometric shape thereof and on the wave length of the light used for the inspection.
 To transport wafers, for example, the support element is formed as a plane-parallel plate having an even surface. When optical systems have to be constructed, an expert skilled in the art will design the optical sensor thereof so that the optical properties of the plane-parallel plate with respect to the refraction of light are considered.
 On the other hand, when rod-like material having a circular cross section is to be held in a non-contact way and to be inspected, the rod-like material is located in a semi-circular groove of the support element, the radius thereof corresponding to that of the rod-like material. In this case, the optical properties of the support element are different from those of a plane-parallel plate and, therefore, the refraction and reflection properties of curved surfaces have to be considered by those skilled in the art, which is true for designing the optical sensor and also for designing the illuminating system required.
 Thus, the support element has to be regarded as a structural optic element which can be made by using technologies known for making and coating structural optic elements.
 According to claim 5, a transport and inspection device is provided, on which materials are transported along a transport path. An inspection device according to any of the claims 1 to 4 is arranged at a certain position of the transport path.
 As the support plate is dependent on the shape and size of the material to be supported and the surface to be inspected may be the total surface of the material or only a section thereof, it is not possible to give concrete geometric information as to the design and shape of the support plate. It is obvious to those skilled in the art and knowing the disclosed technical science that only that surface section of the support plate, in which the propagation of light beams is not shadowed or disturbed, can be used for the inspection.
 It is obvious to those skilled in the art, in which way the signals provided by an optical sensor have to be evaluated. As signal processing and evaluating is not subject-matter of the invention but known from the prior art, it is not necessary to explain it in detail for those skilled in the art.
 Below, the invention will be explained in detail by means of an embodiment and the enclosed schematic drawings.
 FIG. 1 is a schematic and perspective view of a support plate with a planar material put on it.
 FIG. 2 is a side view of the support plate shown in FIG. 1 and a camera arranged below it.
 FIG. 1 is a schematic and perspective view of a support plate 1 that is bent laterally. An oscillator (not shown) is connected to the leg 2 of this plate. Generation of oscillation is indicated by a double arrow. The planar material 3 is a silicon wafer levitating 0.1 mm above the support plate 1.
 FIG. 2 is a side view of the structure shown in FIG. 1. A camera 4 is arranged below the support plate 1, which is used for inspecting the bottom surface of the silicon wafer levitating on the support plate. The support plate is made of an optical glass and is laterally illuminated from below.
Patent applications by Adolf Zitzmann, Teunz DE
Patent applications by Josef Zimmermann, Regensburg DE
Patent applications by Michael Schilp, Regensburg DE
Patent applications by Zimmermann & Schilp Handhabungstechnik GMBH
Patent applications in class Surface condition
Patent applications in all subclasses Surface condition