Saw Blade

Control of internal diameter saw blade tension in situ

Saw Blade Abstract

A system and method for controlling the tension of an internal diameter saw blade by controlling the temperature of the blade while it is still rotating. The blade temperature is controlled by regulating the temperature of the wash water flow associated therewith. In one embodiment blade tension is periodically measured and, when the tension falls below a predetermined limit, the temperature of the wash water stream is decreased for a period of time until the tension increases to a preselected value.

Saw Blade Claims

What is claimed is:

1. A method for controlling the tension of an internal diameter saw blade while sawing an object; comprising the steps of:

directing a stream of fluid onto the cutting edge of said saw blade after said blade passes through the object being sawed;

regulating the temperature of said fluid to control blade tension; and

measuring the tension of said saw blade and regulating said fluid temperature responsive thereto.

2. The method of claim 1 wherein said regulating step comprises decreasing the temperature of said fluid until said saw blade tension is increased to a predetermined value.

3. A method for controlling the tension of an internal diameter saw blade while sawing an object; comprising the steps of:

directing a stream of fluid onto the cutting edge of said saw blade after said blade passes through the object being sawed;

regulating the temperature of said fluid to control blade tension;

monitoring the tension of said sawblade; and

decreasing the temperature of said fluid when said tension falls below a predetermined value.

4. A system for controlling the tension of an internal diameter saw blade comprising:

means for directing a stream of fluid onto the cutting edge of said saw blade;

means for regulating the temperature of said fluid to control blade tension; and

means for measuring the tension of said sawblade coupled to said regulating means, wherein said regulating means is responsive to said measuring means.

5. The system of claim 4 wherein said regulating means comprises means for decreasing the temperature of said fluid until said saw blade tension is increased to within a predetermined tension range.

6. The system of claim 5, further comprising:

control means coupled to said regulating means and to said measuring means for periodically enabling said measuring means to detect when the blade tension decreases to a value outside of said tension range, and thereafter enabling aid regulating means until the blade tension increases to a value within said predetermined tension range.

Saw Blade Description

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

This invention relates generally to semiconductor wafer processing and more particularly to the optimization of semiconductor sawing using an internal diameter saw.

An internal diameter saw blade is a thin metal annulus having diamond or other abrasive particles bonded to its inner rim to form a cutting edge. The core of a typical saw blade is about 4-5 mils thick and the cutting edge has a thickness of about 10-11 mils. Internal diameter saws are used in semiconductor manufacturing, for example, to cut silicon ingots into wafers. The flatness, depth of damage and edge perfection of a wafer are dependent upon the degree to which the saw blade follows an ideal plane as it traverses the wafer, as well as its freedom from out-of-plane vibration. To meet these requirements the saw blade must be kept under a constant, high tension. An improperly tensioned blade will produce bowed or otherwise defective wafers and the useful life of the blade will be diminished, because the blade becomes unstable with respect to deviation under the forces of cutting. Further, the blade becomes free to vibrate with a greater amplitude than a properly tensioned blade.

Methods and apparatus are known in the art for monitoring blade deviation or displacement from a steady-state position as it moves through an ingot. However, these systems do not indicate whether the blade requires retensioning or merely needs dressing. If the blade is dressed when retensioning was the proper course of action, the result will be lower wafer quality and yield. It is known in the art to measure blade tension by applying a force to the blade rim through a force gauge or a balance arm in contact with the blade and then reading deflection with a dial indicator. This method, however, requires stopping of the saw, assembly and calibration of sensitive, precision equipment, and numerous measurements by a skilled operator. This is both expensive and time-consuming.

A system and method for measuring tension while the saw blade is installed and rotating is disclosed in copending application Ser. No. 432,619 filed herewith, entitled "Apparatus and Method For Measuring Saw Blade Flexure," and assigned to the assignee of the present invention. However, retensioning requires stopping the saw and performing an involved tensioning procedure. This is particularly time-consuming in the case of mechanically tensioned saw blades.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention provides a method and apparatus for controlling the tension of an internal diameter saw blade by controlling the temperature of the blade while it is still rotating. The blade temperature is controlled by regulating the temperature of the wash water flow associated therewith. In one embodiment blade tension is periodically measured and, when the tension falls below a predetermined limit, the temperature of the wash water stream is lowered for a period of time until the tension increases to a preselected value.

It is therefore an object of the present invention to provide a method for controlling the tension of an internal diameter saw blade.

Another object of this invention is to provide a method and apparatus for controlling the tension of an internal diameter saw blade in situ by controlling the temperature of the blade while it is rotating.

Yet another object of this invention is to provide a method and apparatus for in situ control of internal diameter saw blade tension by controlling the temperature of the saw blade wash water stream.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWING

The novel features believed characteristic of the invention are set forth in the appended claims. The invention itself, however, as well as further objects and advantages thereof, will be best understood by reference to the following detailed description of illustrative embodiments, when read in conjunction with the accompanying drawing FIGURE which is a schematic elevational view of an internal diameter saw blade tension control system according to the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

Referring now to the drawing FIGURE, there is shown an internal diameter saw blade 10 having an inner cutting edge 11 for sawing wafers from a semiconductor ingot 12. A system for monitoring the tension of blade 10 includes a displacement sensor 14 coupled to an indication and control unit 16, and a nozzle 18 connected to a valve 20 which is in turn connected to a supply of pressurized air, indicated by arrow 22 in the drawing. The details of this system are disclosed in copending application Ser. No. 432,619, incorporated herein by reference. Generally, blade tension is measured before a sawing operation by opening valve 20 which allows pressurized air to flow through nozzle 18 thereby deflecting blade 10. This deflection is detected by sensor 14 which produces an electrical signal corresponding to blade displacement, which is inversely related to blade tension. Indication and control unit 16 provides an analog or digital indication of blade tension responsive to this signal.

Internal diameter saws used for semiconductor wafer cutting generally include means for washing the residual kerf from the blade after it passes through the saw slot in the semiconductor ingot. Referring to the drawing, a wash water stream is directed at blade 10 by a nozzle 24 adjacent thereto positioned so that the wash stream flows on both sides of the blade.

In one embodiment of the present invention the primary wash water flow, generally indicated by arrow 26 in the drawing, is divided into two streams. One stream is coupled directly to a mixing valve 28, while the other stream is coupled to mixing valve 28 after passing through a refrigeration unit 30 for cooling the second stream to a temperature substantially below that of the first stream. If the measured tension of blade 10 is unacceptably low, mixing valve 28 is operated to combine the two streams, thus lowering the temperature of the stream flowing from nozzle 24, indicated by arrows 32 in the drawing. The cooler stream 32 lowers the blade tempeature, which in turn increases the blade tension. When the blade tension is again within an acceptable range, valve 28 is operated to allow the normal tempeature wash water 26 to flow directly to nozzle 24. In an alternative embodiment, the primary wash water flow 26 is coupled through refrigeration unit 30 directly to nozzle 24, thus eliminating mixing valve 28. In this case the tempeature of the flow 32 from nozzle 24 is controlled by controlling the tempeature of refrigeration unit 30.

The present system can be automated by including a valve control unit 34 coupled to sensor control unit 16, valve 28, and valve 20. Control unit 34 comprises a microprocessor or other control means known in the art which monitors blade 10 tension by periodically opening valve 20, reading the output of sensor indication and control unit 16, then closing valve 20. When the measured tension falls below a preset limit control unit 34 operates mixing valve 28 as described above to decrease the blade temperature and thus increase blade tension. After the blade tension increases to a preselected value unit 34 again operates valve 28 to allow the normal temperature wash water stream 26 to flow to nozzle 24.

In one example of the present invention blade 10 was used to cut a silicon ingot three inches in diameter at the rate of 1.5 inches per minute. With a wash flow 32 of 300 cc/min. at the normal temperature of about 58 degrees F., blade deviation was measured to be about 0.7 mils. The wash water flow temperature was then lowered as described above to about 38 degrees F., and blade deviation was reduced to about 0.4 mils, indicating that the blade tension had increased.

Therefore, the present invention provides a system and method for controlling internal diameter saw blade tension during the sawing process by controlling the temperature of the wash water associated therewith.

While the present invention has been described and illustrated with respect to specific embodiments, it is to be understood that various modifications may be made without departing from the spirit and the scope of the invention.