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Title:
LOCK VALVE FOR VACUUM SEALING, VACUUM CHAMBER AND VACUUM PROCESSING SYSTEM
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2019/063073
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
A lock valve (100) for vacuum sealing is described. The lock valve (100) includes: a base structure (110) having a valve opening (111), a mechanism (120) for opening and closing the valve opening (111), and two or more connecting elements (130) connecting the mechanism (120) with the base structure (110). The two or more connecting elements (130) are configured for providing a translational degree of freedom (139) relative to the base structure (110).

Inventors:
XIA, Tobias Lin-da (Am Schlägelsgraben 18A, Darmstadt, 64291, DE)
KEMMERER, Martin (Am Welschenfeld 3, Mömbris, 63776, DE)
SONNENSCHEIN, Joachim (Am Himmelsberg 3, Mühltal, 64367, DE)
Application Number:
EP2017/074502
Publication Date:
April 04, 2019
Filing Date:
September 27, 2017
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
APPLIED MATERIALS, INC. (3050 Bowers Avenue, Santa Clara, California, 95054, US)
XIA, Tobias Lin-da (Am Schlägelsgraben 18A, Darmstadt, 64291, DE)
KEMMERER, Martin (Am Welschenfeld 3, Mömbris, 63776, DE)
SONNENSCHEIN, Joachim (Am Himmelsberg 3, Mühltal, 64367, DE)
International Classes:
F16K1/20; C23C14/56; C23C16/44; F16K51/02; H01L21/67
Domestic Patent References:
WO2005064038A12005-07-14
WO2001001456A12001-01-04
WO2010084618A12010-07-29
WO2012030222A12012-03-08
Foreign References:
US20170113083A12017-04-27
US20130068981A12013-03-21
DE4113019A11992-10-22
DE3535637A11987-04-16
FR2112772A61972-06-23
DE2336616A11975-02-06
Other References:
None
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
ZIMMERMANN & PARTNER PATENTANWÄLTE MBB (Josephspitalstr. 15, München, 80331, DE)
Download PDF:
Claims:
CLAIMS

1. A lock valve (100) for vacuum sealing, comprising:

- a base structure (110) having a valve opening (111),

- a mechanism (120) for opening and closing the valve opening (111), and

- two or more connecting elements (130) connecting the mechanism (120) with the base structure (110), the two or more connecting elements (130) being configured for providing a translational degree of freedom (139) relative to the base structure (110).

2. The lock valve (100) according to claim 1, the translational degree of freedom (139) being provided in a plane parallel to a plane of a main surface (112) of the base structure (110).

3. The lock valve (100) according to claim 1 or 2, the valve opening (111) being a longitudinal valve opening having a length (LI) in a second direction (102), and the translational degree of freedom (139) being provided in a first direction (101) perpendicular to the second direction (102).

4. The lock valve (100) according to any of claims 1 to 3, the two or more

connecting elements (130) comprising a flexible element (135) being flexible in a direction of the translational degree of freedom (139).

5. The lock valve (100) according to claim 4, the flexible element (135) being arranged in a reception (113) provided in the base structure (110), the reception having a length (L2) extending in the direction of the translational degree of freedom (139).

6. The lock valve (100) according to any of claims 1 to 5, the mechanism (120) for opening and closing the valve opening (111) comprising a flap mechanism (121) coupled to the base structure (110) via a first group (131) of the two or more connecting elements (130).

7. The lock valve (100) according to claim 6, the first group (131) of the two or more connecting elements (130) being provided at a first side (111A) of the valve opening (111), particularly the first group (131) of the two or more connecting elements (130) being arranged in a first row (131R).

8. The lock valve (100) according to claim 6 or 7, the connecting elements of the first group (131) of the two or more connecting elements (130) comprising a first group of bearings (133) supporting a lever shaft (123) of the flap mechanism (121).

9. The lock valve (100) according to any of claims 1 to 8, wherein the

mechanism (120) for opening and closing the valve opening (111) comprises a locking mechanism (122) coupled to the base structure (110) via a second group (132) of the two or more connecting elements (130).

10. The lock valve (100) according to claim 9, the second group (132) of the two or more connecting elements (130) being provided at a second side (11 IB) of the valve opening (111) opposite a first side (111 A) of the valve opening (111), particularly the second group (132) of the two or more connecting elements (130) being arranged in a second row (132R).

11 The lock valve (100) according to claim 9 or 10, the connecting elements of the second group (132) of the two or more connecting elements (130) comprising a second group of bearings (134) supporting a locking shaft (124) of the locking mechanism (122.) The lock valve (100) according to any of claims 1 to 11, the valve opening (111) being configured for transferring a large area substrate through the valve opening (111).

A lock valve (100) for vacuum sealing, comprising:

- a housing (160) having a first aperture (161) and a second aperture (162); and

- a lock valve inlay (165), the lock valve inlay comprising:

- a base structure (110) having a longitudinal valve opening having a length (LI) in a second direction (102);

- a mechanism (120) having a valve flap (144), the mechanism being configured for opening and closing the valve opening (111) by the valve flap; and

- two or more connecting elements (130) connecting the mechanism (120) with the base structure (110) on at least one side of the longitudinal valve opening, the two or more connecting elements (130) being provided in a row in the second direction (102) and the two or more connecting elements (130) being configured for providing a translational degree of freedom of the mechanism (120) relative to the base structure (110) in a first direction (101) being perpendicular to the second direction (102).

A vacuum chamber (200) having at least one lock valve (100) for vacuum sealing, the at least one lock valve comprising: a base structure (110) having a valve opening (111), a mechanism (120) for opening and closing the valve opening (111), and two or more connecting elements (130) connecting the mechanism (120) with the base structure (110), the two or more connecting elements (130) being configured for providing a translational degree of freedom of the mechanism (120) relative to the base structure (110). A vacuum processing system (300) for processing a substrate, comprising a vacuum processing chamber (310) being adapted for processing the substrate; and at least one load lock chamber (320) being configured for transferring the substrate from atmospheric conditions to vacuum conditions, the load lock chamber comprising at least one lock valve (100) for vacuum sealing comprising: a base structure (110) having a valve opening (111), a mechanism (120) for opening and closing the valve opening (111), and two or more connecting elements (130) connecting the mechanism (120) with the base structure (110), the two or more connecting elements (130) being configured for providing a translational degree of freedom of the mechanism (120) relative to the base structure (110).

Description:
LOCK VALVE FOR VACUUM SEALING, VACUUM CHAMBER AND VACUUM PROCESSING SYSTEM

TECHNICAL FIELD

[0001] Embodiments of the present disclosure relate to lock valves for vacuum sealing. In particular, the present disclosure relates to lock valves for vacuum sealing of a vacuum chamber of a vacuum processing system. Further, the present disclosure relates to vacuum chambers with a lock valve for transferring a substrate from atmospheric conditions to vacuum conditions. Additionally, the present disclosure relates to vacuum processing systems for processing substrates, particularly inline vacuum processing systems for processing large area substrates.

BACKGROUND

[0002] Substrates are often coated, for example, in vacuum processing systems or vacuum coating plants, under high-vacuum conditions, at pressures within the range of 5* 10^ hPa to 0.5 hPa. In order to increase the plant productivity and to avoid the situation of having to evacuate the entire installation for each substrate and, especially, the high- vacuum section, load and unload locks (or entrance and exit chambers) are used for the substrates.

[0003] In order to improve the material flux rate and increase the productivity in modern in-line coating plants, separate load and unload lock chambers are being used. A simple so-called 3-chamber coating unit consists of a load lock, in which the substrate is pumped from atmospheric pressure to an adequate transition pressure of, for example, between p=l* 10 " hPa to p= 1.0 hPa, of a sequential vacuum coating section (one or more process chambers) and an unload lock, in which, by means of venting, said substrate is again adjusted to the atmospheric pressure level. In some systems, the load lock and the unload lock are provided by the same load lock chamber. [0004] The task of load and unload lock chambers is to evacuate to a sufficient and low enough transition pressure to the process range and to vent as quickly as possible to atmospheric pressure again as quickly as possible. After the substrate is unloaded from the load lock chamber, the load lock chamber is evacuated again. [0005] At the same time, the wish for less contamination during a vacuum process has increased in the last few years. For instance, when producing displays, the acceptance of contamination with particles has decreased and the standard of quality, and also the quality expected by the customer, has increased. Contamination may, for example, occur due to mechanical stress acting on lock valve components caused by the pressure change during evacuation of vacuum chambers.

[0006] Accordingly, there is a continuous demand for providing improved lock valves for vacuum sealing, vacuum chambers and vacuum processing systems with which at least some of the problems in the art can be overcome. SUMMARY

[0007] In light of the above, a lock valve for vacuum sealing, a vacuum chamber having at least one lock valve for vacuum sealing, and a vacuum processing system for processing a substrate are provided.

[0008] According to an aspect of the present disclosure, a lock valve for vacuum sealing is provided. The lock valve includes: a base structure having a valve opening, a mechanism for opening and closing the valve opening, and two or more connecting elements connecting the mechanism with the base structure. The two or more connecting elements are configured for providing a translational degree of freedom relative to the base structure. [0009] According to a further aspect of the present disclosure, a lock valve for vacuum sealing is provided. The lock valve includes a housing having a first aperture and a second aperture. Further, the lock valve includes a lock valve inlay. The lock valve inlay includes a base structure having a longitudinal valve opening having a length in a second direction. Additionally, the lock valve inlay includes a mechanism having a valve flap, the mechanism being configured for opening and closing the valve opening by the valve flap. Further, the lock valve inlay includes two or more connecting elements connecting the mechanism with the base structure on at least one side of the longitudinal valve opening. The two or more connecting elements are provided in a row in the second direction. Further, the two or more connecting elements are configured for providing a translational degree of freedom of the mechanism relative to the base structure in a first direction being perpendicular to the second direction. [0010] According to a further aspect of the present disclosure, a vacuum chamber having at least one lock valve for vacuum sealing is provided. The at least one lock valve includes a base structure having a valve opening, a mechanism for opening and closing the valve opening, and two or more connecting elements connecting the mechanism with the base structure. The two or more connecting elements are configured for providing a translational degree of freedom of the mechanism relative to the base structure.

[0011] According to a further aspect of the present disclosure, a vacuum processing system for processing a substrate is provided. The vacuum processing system includes a vacuum processing chamber being adapted for processing the substrate. Further, the vacuum processing system includes at least one load lock chamber being configured for transferring the substrate from atmospheric conditions to vacuum conditions. The load lock chamber includes at least one lock valve for vacuum sealing. The at least one lock valve includes a base structure having a valve opening, a mechanism for opening and closing the valve opening, and two or more connecting elements connecting the mechanism with the base structure. The two or more connecting elements are configured for providing a translational degree of freedom of the mechanism relative to the base structure.

[0012] Further aspects, advantages and features of the present disclosure are apparent from the description and the accompanying drawings. BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0013] So that the manner in which the above recited features of the present disclosure can be understood in detail, a more particular description of the present disclosure, briefly summarized above, may be had by reference to embodiments. The accompanying drawings relate to embodiments of the disclosure and are described in the following. Typical embodiments are depicted in the drawings and are detailed in the description which follows.

[0014] FIG. 1A is a schematic sectional view of a lock valve according to embodiments described herein, the lock valve being shown in a closed state; [0015] FIG. IB is a schematic sectional view of a lock valve according to embodiments described herein, the lock valve being shown in an open state;

[0016] FIG. 2 is a schematic isometric view of a lock valve according to embodiments described herein;

[0017] FIG. 3 is a schematic sectional view of a lock valve according to further embodiments described herein;

[0018] FIGS. 4 and 5 are schematic sectional views of a lock valve according to yet further embodiments described herein;

[0019] FIG. 6 is a schematic sectional view of a vacuum chamber having at least one lock valve for vacuum sealing according to embodiments described herein; and

[0020] FIG. 7 is a schematic view of a vacuum processing system according to embodiments described herein.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF EMBODIMENTS

[0021] Reference will now be made in detail to the various embodiments, one or more examples of which are illustrated in the figures. Each example is provided by way of explanation and is not meant as a limitation. For example, features illustrated or described as part of one embodiment can be used on or in conjunction with any other embodiment to yield yet a further embodiment. It is intended that the present disclosure includes such modifications and variations.

[0022] Within the following description of the drawings, the same reference numbers refer to the same or to similar components. Generally, only the differences with respect to the individual embodiments are described. Unless specified otherwise, the description of a part or aspect in one embodiment applies to a corresponding part or aspect in another embodiment as well.

[0023] Before various embodiments of the present disclosure are described in more detail, some aspects with respect to some terms and expressions used herein are explained.

[0024] In the present disclosure, a "lock valve" can be understood as a valve configured for locking a valve opening. In particular, a lock valve can be understood as a valve configured for providing a vacuum sealing, e.g. between atmospheric conditions and vacuum conditions. For instance, the lock valve can be provided in a wall of a vacuum chamber for providing a vacuum sealing from an atmospheric environment and vacuum conditions provided inside the vacuum chamber. In other words, a lock valve can be understood as a vacuum sealable valve, which may be configured as a valve selected from the group consisting of a gate valve, a slit valve, and a slot valve.

[0025] In the present disclosure, a "base structure" of the lock valve can be understood as a structure which is configured for supporting components or parts of the lock valve. For instance, the base structure can be a lock valve inlay provided in a housing of the lock valve. Alternatively, the base structure can be part of a housing of the lock valve. In particular, the base structure may be a substantially flat element, e.g. a plate-like lock valve inlay, a wall of a housing of the lock valve or a wall of a vacuum chamber. Typically, the base structure includes the valve opening which can be opened and closed by the lock valve. [0026] In the present disclosure, a "valve opening" of the lock valve can be understood as an opening which can be opened and closed by the lock valve. Accordingly, the valve opening can be a lock aperture. In particular, the valve opening or lock aperture can be an elongated opening or elongated aperture provided in the base structure of the lock valve. For instance, the valve opening can be a rectangular opening. More specifically, the valve opening may have a length LI which is at least double the width W of the valve opening. Typically, the dimensions of the valve opening are selected such that a substrate as described herein can be transferred through the valve opening. [0027] In the present disclosure, a "mechanism for opening and closing the valve opening" can be understood as a mechanism which is configured for opening and closing the valve opening or valve aperture. In particular, the mechanism for opening and closing the valve opening can be understood as a mechanism which is configured for providing an airtight sealing of the valve opening or valve aperture. The "mechanism for opening and closing the valve opening" may also be referred to as "opening/closing-mechanism" herein.

[0028] In the present disclosure, a "connecting element" can be understood as an element which provides a connection between the base structure of the lock valve and the mechanism for opening and closing the valve opening. A "connecting element being configured for providing a translational degree of freedom" can be understood as an element which provides a connection between the base structure of the lock valve and the mechanism for opening and closing the valve opening, while a translational degree of freedom between the connecting element and the base structure is provided. Accordingly, the two or more connecting elements as described herein can be configured such that translational movements of the two or more connecting elements relative to the base structure are allowed.

[0029] With exemplary reference to FIG. 1A, a lock valve 100 for vacuum sealing according to the present disclosure is described. According to embodiments which can be combined with other embodiments described herein, the lock valve 100 includes a base structure 110 having a valve opening 111, a mechanism 120 for opening and closing the valve opening 111, and two or more connecting elements 130 connecting the mechanism 120 with the base structure 110. The two or more connecting elements 130 are configured for providing a translational degree of freedom 139 relative to the base structure 110.

[0030] In particular, a "translational degree of freedom" of the two or more connecting elements relative to the base structure can be understood in that the two or more connecting elements may be movable relative to the base structure, particularly movable along a translational direction being in or parallel to the plane of the main surface of the base structure. In particular, the two or more connecting elements may be configured for providing a compliant connection in a translational direction between the opening/closing mechanism and the base structure. A "compliant connection" can be understood as a connection which is configured such that a mechanical decoupling of two elements which are connected (e.g. here the opening/closing-mechanism connected to the base structure) by the compliant connection can be provided. In other words, a "compliant connection" can be understood as a connection which provides for mechanical isolation of two elements connected to each other via the compliant connection. For instance, a compliant connection between the opening/closing- mechanism and the base structure can be understood as a floating connection which allows for a translational movement of the opening/closing-mechanism relative to the base structure. In particular, the compliant connection can be configured such that mechanical stress acting on the base structure can be compensated by the compliant connection, such that beneficially a deformation of the base structure is not transferred to the opening/closing-mechanism of the lock valve. Accordingly, beneficially a decoupling of base structure deformations from the opening/closing-mechanism of the lock valve can be provided.

[0031] Accordingly, beneficially a lock valve with a prolonged lifetime can be provided. In particular, by providing a lock valve as described herein, stress acting on the lock valve, e.g. due to deformations of a structure to which the lock valve is connected can substantially be reduced or even eliminated. Thus, beneficially components of the lock valve according to embodiments described herein are subjected to less wear than those of conventional lock valves. In this regard, it is to be noted that pumping down a vacuum chamber from atmospheric conditions to vacuum conditions typically results in a force acting on the walls of the vacuum chamber creating a deformation of the vacuum chamber walls. The configuration of the lock valve according to embodiments described herein has the advantage that deformations of the vacuum chamber walls are not transferred to the lock valve, such that wear of lock valve components due to stress as well as high particle levels due to friction can substantially be reduced or even eliminated.

[0032] FIG. 1A shows a schematic sectional view of the lock valve in a closed state and FIG. IB shows a schematic sectional view of the lock valve in an open state. In particular, as can be seen from FIGS. 1A and IB, according to embodiments which can be combined with any other embodiments described herein, the mechanism 120 for opening and closing the valve opening 111 may include a flap mechanism 121 and a locking mechanism 122. In particular, as exemplarily shown in FIG. IB, the flap mechanism 121 can be provided on one side of the valve opening 111 and the locking mechanism 122 can be provided on the opposite side of the valve opening 111. The flap mechanism 121 typically includes a shutter 140 for closing the valve opening 111. The locking mechanism 122 includes a latch 150 for securing the shutter 140 in the closed position of the lock valve, as exemplarily shown in FIG. 1A. In particular, the shutter 140 can be mounted to a lever shaft 123. The lever shaft can be rotatable around a rotation axis. For instance, the lever shaft 123 can be supported by a first group of bearings, as exemplarily described in more detail with reference to FIG. 2.

[0033] With exemplary reference to FIG. IB, according to embodiments which can be combined with any other embodiments described herein, the locking mechanism 122 typically includes a latch 150 which can be mounted to a locking shaft 124. The locking shaft can be rotatable around a rotation axis. For instance, the locking shaft 124 can be supported by a second group of bearings, as exemplarily described in more detail with reference to FIG. 2.

[0034] FIG. 2 shows a schematic isometric view of a lock valve according to embodiments described herein. As exemplarily shown in FIG. 2, according to embodiments which can be combined with any other embodiments described herein, the translational degree of freedom 139 may be provided in a plane parallel to a plane of a main surface 112 of the base structure 110 of the lock valve 100. In particular, the translational degree of freedom 139 may be provided in a first direction 101 (as exemplarily indicated in FIG. 2) and/or a second direction 102 (not explicitly shown). As exemplarily indicated in FIG. 2, typically the translational degree of freedom 139 is provided in the first direction 101 being perpendicular to the second direction 102. For instance, the first direction 101 can be an x-direction and the second direction 102 can be a y-direction. In particular, the first direction 101 can be a horizontal direction and the second direction 102 can be a vertical direction. Further, in the figures a third direction 103 is indicated which can be a z-direction.

[0035] As exemplarily shown in FIG. 2, typically the valve opening 111 has a length LI extending in the second direction 102 and a width W extending in the first direction 101. Accordingly, the translational degree of freedom 139 may be provided in a width direction of the valve opening 111 (as exemplarily indicated in FIG. 2) and/or a length direction of the valve opening 111 (not explicitly shown).

[0036] With exemplary reference to FIG. 2, according to embodiments which can be combined with any other embodiments described herein, the valve opening 111 can be a longitudinal valve opening having a length LI extending in the second direction 102 and a width W extending in the first direction 101. For instance, the length LI of the valve opening can be selected from a range having a lower limit of LI = 1.0 m, particularly a lower limit of LI = 1.5 m, more particularly a lower limit of LI = 2.0 m and an upper limit of LI = 2.5 m, particularly an upper limit of LI = 3.5 m, more particularly an upper limit of LI = 4.0 m, more particularly an upper limit of LI = 4.5 m. The width W of the valve opening can be selected from a range having a lower limit of W = 5 cm, particularly a lower limit of W = 7 cm, more particularly a lower limit of W = 9 cm and an upper limit of W = 16 cm, particularly an upper limit of W = 25 cm, more particularly an upper limit of W = 50 cm. Typically, the selected width of the valve opening extends over the selected length of the valve opening.

[0037] According to embodiments which can be combined with any other embodiments described herein, the valve opening 111 is configured for transferring a substrate as described herein, particularly a large area substrate, through the valve opening 111.

[0038] In the present disclosure, the term "substrate" or "large area substrate" as used herein shall particularly embrace inflexible substrates, e.g., glass plates and metal plates. However, the present disclosure is not limited thereto, and the term "substrate" can also embrace flexible substrates such as a web or a foil. According to some embodiments, the substrate can be made of any material suitable for material deposition. For instance, the substrate can be made of a material selected from the group consisting of glass (for instance soda-lime glass, borosilicate glass etc.), metal, polymer, ceramic, compound materials, carbon fiber materials, mica or any other material or combination of materials which can be coated by a deposition process.

[0039] According to embodiments, which can be combined with any other embodiments described herein, a "large area substrate" as described herein can have a size of at least 0.01 m 2 , specifically at least 0.1 m 2 , and more specifically at least 0.5 m . For instance, a large area substrate or carrier can be GEN 4.5, which corresponds to about 0.67 m 2 substrates (0.73 x 0.92m), GEN 5, which corresponds to about 1.4 m 2 substrates (1.1 m x 1.3 m), GEN 7.5, which corresponds to about 4.29 m 2 substrates (1.95 m x 2.2 m), GEN 8.5, which corresponds to about 5.7m 2 substrates (2.2 m x 2.5 m), or even GEN 10, which corresponds to about 8.7 m 2 substrates (2.85 m x 3.05 m). Even larger generations such as GEN 11 and GEN 12 and corresponding substrate areas can similarly be implemented. Accordingly, the substrate can be selected from the group consisting of GEN 1, GEN 2, GEN 3, GEN 3.5, GEN 4, GEN 4.5, GEN 5, GEN 6, GEN 7, GEN 7.5, GEN 8, GEN 8.5, GEN 10, GEN 11, and GEN 12. In particular, the substrate can be selected from the group consisting of GEN 4.5, GEN 5, GEN 7.5, GEN 8.5, GEN 10, GEN 11, and GEN 12, or larger generation substrates. Further, the substrate thickness can be from 0.1 to 1.8 mm, particularly about 0.9 mm or below, such as 0.7 mm or 0.5.

[0040] As exemplarily described with reference to FIGS. 1A and IB, according to embodiments which can be combined with any other embodiments described herein, the mechanism 120 for opening and closing the valve opening 111 may include a flap mechanism 121 coupled to the base structure 110. For instance, the flap mechanism 121 can be coupled to the base structure 110 via a first group 131 of the two or more connecting elements 130 as exemplarily shown in FIG. 2. In particular, with exemplary reference to FIG. 2, the first group 131 of the two or more connecting elements 130 can be provided at a first side 111A of the valve opening 111. More specifically, the first group 131 of the two or more connecting elements 130 may be arranged in a first row 131R. For instance, the first row 131R of the first group 131 of the two or more connecting elements 130 may be arranged along a first line 131L extending in the second direction, e.g. the first line 131L extending in the length direction of the valve opening 111, as exemplarily shown in FIG. 2.

[0041] Further, with exemplary reference to FIG. 2, according to embodiments which can be combined with any other embodiments described herein, the connecting elements of the first group 131 of the two or more connecting elements 130 can include a first group of bearings 133 supporting the lever shaft 123 of the flap mechanism 121.

[0042] As exemplarily described with reference to FIGS. 1A and IB, according to embodiments which can be combined with any other embodiments described herein, the mechanism 120 for opening and closing the valve opening 111 may include a locking mechanism 122 coupled to the base structure 110. In particular, the locking mechanism 122 can be coupled to the base structure 110 via a second group 132 of the two or more connecting elements 130. More specifically, the second group 132 of the two or more connecting elements 130 may be provided at a second side 11 IB of the valve opening 111 opposite the first side 111A of the valve opening 111. For instance, the second group 132 of the two or more connecting elements 130 can be arranged in a second row 132R.

[0043] For instance, the second row 132R of the second group 132 of the two or more connecting elements 130 may be arranged along a second line 132L extending in the second direction 102, e.g. the second line 132L extending in the length direction of the valve opening 111. Accordingly, the first row 131R of the first group 131 of the two or more connecting elements 130 and the second row 132R of the second group 132 of the two or more connecting elements 130 may be arranged parallel to each other on opposite sides of the valve opening. Accordingly, the first line 131L and the second line 132L may be parallel to each other.

[0044] With exemplary reference to FIG.2, according to embodiments which can be combined with any other embodiments described herein, the connecting elements of the second group 132 of the two or more connecting elements 130 may include a second group of bearings 134 supporting the locking shaft 124 of the locking mechanism 122.

[0045] With exemplary reference to FIG. 3, further details of the lock valve are described. For example, according to embodiments which can be combined with any other embodiments described herein, the shutter 140 may include a flap holder 141 that is attached to the lever shaft 123. Further, the shutter 140 may include a sealing element 142 to provide an airtight seal of the valve opening 111 when the lock valve is in a closed position. For instance, the sealing element can be the valve flap 144, as exemplarily shown in FIG. 2. As exemplarily shown in FIG. 3, the latch 150 may be provided with an engaging element 151 which is configured to engage with an at least partially complementary contour 143 formed on the flap holder 141 in order to secure the shutter 140 in the closed position. As schematically shown in FIG. 2, typically two or more flap holders may be provided and two or more latches with engaging elements may be provided.

[0046] According to embodiments which can be combined with any other embodiments described herein, the two or more connecting elements 130 may include a flexible element 135 being flexible in a direction of the translational degree of freedom 139, as exemplarily indicated in FIG. 4. For instance, the flexible element 135 can be arranged in a reception 113 provided in the base structure 110. In particular, the reception 113 can have a length L2 extending in the direction of the translational degree of freedom 139. According to an example, the reception 113 can be a blind hole, particularly an elongated blind hole, as exemplarily shown in FIG. 4. According to another example (not explicitly shown), the reception 113 can be a through hole, particularly an elongated through hole. Further, FIG. 4 shows that typically an O-ring 115 is provided around the valve opening 111 in order to improve the sealing.

[0047] With exemplary reference to FIG. 5, according to embodiments which can be combined with any other embodiments described herein, the lock valve 100 for vacuum sealing includes a housing 160 having a first aperture 161 and a second aperture 162. For instance, the first aperture 161 may be provided in a first wall of the housing and the second aperture 162 may be provided in a second wall of the housing opposite the first wall of the housing. For example, as exemplarily shown in FIG. 5, the dimensions of the second aperture 162 may be larger than the dimensions of the first aperture 161. Further, the lock valve 100 can include a lock valve inlay 165. For example, the lock valve inlay 165 may be attached to an interior surface 163 of a wall of the housing. The lock valve inlay 165 can include a base structure 110 having a longitudinal valve opening having a length LI in a second direction 102. Typically, the valve opening 111 is configured and arranged to be congruent with the first aperture 161 provided in the housing 160. Alternatively, the dimensions of the first aperture 161 may be larger than the dimensions of the valve opening 111 and smaller than the dimensions of the base structure 110 attached to the interior surface of the wall of the housing. Accordingly, as exemplarily shown in FIG. 5, the first aperture 161 can be closed by the shutter 140 to provide an airtight sealing.

[0048] Additionally, the lock valve inlay may include a mechanism 120 having a valve flap. The mechanism 120 is configured for opening and closing the valve opening 111 by the valve flap. Further, the lock valve 100 includes two or more connecting elements 130 connecting the mechanism 120 with the base structure 110 on at least one side of the longitudinal valve opening. In particular, the two or more connecting elements 130 are provided in a row in a second direction 102. Further, the two or more connecting elements 130 are configured for providing a translational degree of freedom of the mechanism 120 relative to the base structure 110 in a first direction 101, the first direction 101 being perpendicular to the second direction 102. In particular, the two or more connecting elements 130 can be configured and arranged as described with reference to FIGS. 1A, IB, 2, 3 and 4.

[0049] More specifically, the inlay of the lock valve may include two rows of bearings as exemplarily described with reference to FIG 2. Each row of bearings may support a shaft (e.g. the lever shaft and the locking shaft). A group of flap holders can be mounted to the lever shaft. Further, a valve flap 144 can be mounted to the flap holders. The valve inlay can be connected to a vacuum chamber or a housing of a lock valve as described with reference to FIG. 5. When pumping down the chamber, the atmosphere will apply a force onto walls, particularly onto the wall to which the lock valve is attached, creating a deformation. By providing the lock valve with connecting elements being configured for providing a translational degree of freedom relative to the base structure, beneficially a transmission of the deformation to the lock valve, particularly to the lever shaft and the locking shaft can substantially be reduced or even eliminated. Accordingly, wear of lock valve components due to stress and particle generation due to friction can substantially be avoided. Thus, embodiments of the lock according to embodiments described herein provide for a longer lifetime than conventional lock valves.

[0050] In other words, embodiments as described herein beneficially provide for a lock valve having a bearing system, which may be part of a lock valve inlay, which is decoupled from chamber deformations (i.e. movement of the chamber walls during evacuation). In particular, embodiments of the lock valve as described are beneficially configured such that a movement of the bearings supporting the lever shaft and the locking shaft can compensate chamber deformations, such that no mechanical stress is transferred to components of the lock valve. At the same time, sealing between vacuum and atmosphere can still be granted.

[0051] With exemplary reference to FIG. 6, a vacuum chamber 200 according to embodiments of the present disclosure is described. The vacuum chamber 200 includes at least one lock valve 100. For example, the vacuum chamber can include a first lock valve 100 A and a second lock valve 100B. More specifically, the first lock valve 100 A can be provided in a wall of the vacuum chamber and the second lock valve 100B can be provided in an opposite wall of the vacuum chamber as exemplarily shown in FIG. 6. In particular, the at least one lock valve 100 of the vacuum chamber 200 includes a base structure 110 having a valve opening 111, a mechanism 120 for opening and closing the valve opening 111, and two or more connecting elements 130 connecting the mechanism 120 with the base structure 110. Typically, the two or more connecting elements 130 are configured for providing a translational degree of freedom of the opening/closing- mechanism relative to the base structure 110. Accordingly, it is to be understood that the vacuum chamber 200 can include at least one lock valve 100 according to embodiments described herein.

[0052] In the present disclosure, a "vacuum chamber" can be understood as a chamber in which a technical vacuum is provided, for instance a technical vacuum having a vacuum pressure of less than, for example, 10 mbar. Typically, the pressure in a vacuum chamber as described herein may be between 10 "5 mbar and about 10 - " 8 mbar, more typically between 10 - " 5 mbar and 10 - " 7 mbar, and even more typically between about 10 "6 mbar and about 10 "7 mbar. According to some embodiments, the pressure in the vacuum chamber may be considered to be either a partial pressure of an evaporated material within the vacuum chamber or the total pressure (which may approximately be the same when only the evaporated material is present as a component to be deposited in the vacuum chamber). In some embodiments, the total pressure in the vacuum chamber may range from about 10 "4 mbar to about 10 "7 mbar, especially in the case that a second component besides the evaporated material is present in the vacuum chamber (such as a gas or the like).

[0053] Accordingly, it is to be understood that a vacuum chamber as described herein can be evacuable to vacuum, and may include respective equipment, such as vacuum suction outlets, vacuum pumping outlets or vacuum ports which may be connectable to vacuum pumps. Further, the vacuum chamber according to embodiments described herein may have a substrate transport system for transporting the substrate within the vacuum chamber and/or to a further vacuum chamber (e.g. a vacuum processing chamber). In some embodiments, the vacuum chamber may include a carrier for carrying the substrate within and/or through the vacuum chamber. [0054] For instance, the vacuum chamber 200 can be a load lock chamber. A "load lock chamber" may be understood as a chamber for a vacuum processing system, e.g. as described with reference to FIG. 7. For instance, the load lock chamber may provide a transition chamber from atmospheric conditions to low pressure or vacuum. For instance, the load lock chamber according to embodiments described herein may have a substrate inlet for receiving a substrate being delivered in atmospheric conditions, and a substrate outlet, which is adapted for being connected to a vacuum chamber, such as a processing chamber or an intermediate chamber. Typically, the load lock chamber may have a vacuum sealable valve at the substrate inlet and at the substrate outlet. In particular, the vacuum sealable valve at the substrate inlet and at the substrate outlet may be a lock valve according to embodiments described herein.

[0055] With exemplary reference to FIG. 7, a vacuum processing system 300 for processing a substrate according to embodiments of the present disclosure is described. In particular, FIG. 7 shows a schematic top view of the vacuum processing system. As exemplarily shown in FIG. 7, the vacuum processing system 300 includes a vacuum processing chamber 310 being adapted for processing the substrate. Further, the vacuum processing system 300 includes at least one load lock chamber 320 being configured for transferring the substrate from atmospheric conditions to vacuum conditions. The load lock chamber includes at least one lock valve 100 for vacuum sealing. As exemplarily described with reference to FIGS. 1A to 5, the at least one lock valve 100 includes a base structure 110 having a valve opening 111, a mechanism 120 for opening and closing the valve opening 111, and two or more connecting elements 130 connecting the mechanism 120 with the base structure 110. Typically, the two or more connecting elements 130 are configured for providing a translational degree of freedom of the mechanism 120 relative to the base structure 110. Accordingly, the vacuum processing system 300 includes at least one lock valve 100 according to embodiments described herein. [0056] Accordingly, beneficially a vacuum processing system can be provided in which particle generation due to wear of lock valve components can be substantially reduced or even eliminated. This is because the configuration of the lock valve according to embodiments described herein has the advantage that deformations of the vacuum chamber walls are not transferred to the lock valve, such that wear of lock valve components due to stress as well as high particle levels due to friction can substantially be reduced or even eliminated. Accordingly, embodiments of the vacuum processing system have the advantage that improved and high quality processing results can be achieved.

[0057] As exemplarily shown in FIG. 7, the vacuum processing system 300 may include a first vacuum processing arrangement 301 and a second vacuum processing arrangement 302. The first vacuum processing arrangement 301 includes a first load lock chamber 320A and a first vacuum processing chamber 31 OA. Accordingly, the second vacuum processing arrangement 302 may include a second load lock chamber 320B and a second vacuum processing chamber 310B. Further, as exemplarily shown in FIG. 7, the first load lock chamber 320A and the second load lock chamber 320B can include lock valves 100 according to embodiments described. For instance, the lock valves 100 can be provided for a connection to an adjacent substrate loading module 350 for loading a substrate into the processing vacuum processing system. [0058] According to embodiments which can be combined with any other embodiments described herein, the first vacuum processing chamber 31 OA and the second vacuum processing chamber 310B can provide deposition regions having one or more deposition sources or deposition source arrays, which are indicated by reference numerals 333 and 334. Further, as exemplarily shown in FIG. 7, a further vacuum chamber (321, 322) may be provided between the respective load lock chamber (320A, 320B) and the respective vacuum processing chamber (31 OA, 310B) of the first vacuum processing arrangement 301 and the second vacuum processing arrangement 302. Such a configuration may be beneficial for generating a first vacuum with a first vacuum pressure in the respective load lock chambers (320A, 320B) and for generating a second vacuum with a second vacuum pressure in the further vacuum chambers (321, 322). Accordingly, the vacuum pressure can be decreased in two separate steps. As exemplarily shown in FIG. 7, the further vacuum chambers (321, 322) can include lock valves 100 according to embodiments described herein for connecting the further vacuum chambers to the load lock chambers and the vacuum processing chambers.

[0059] According to some embodiments, which can be combined with other embodiments described herein, the vacuum processing system can be configured for stationary layer deposition on the substrate. Alternatively, the processing apparatus can be configured for dynamic layer deposition on the substrate, as exemplarily shown in FIG. 7. A dynamic deposition process, e.g. a sputter deposition process, can be understood as a deposition process in which the substrate is moved through the deposition area along the transport direction while the sputter deposition process is conducted. In other words, the substrate is not stationary during the sputter deposition process. [0060] Accordingly, the vacuum processing system can be configured for dynamic processing, particularly dynamic deposition, having an in-line processing arrangement. An "in-line processing arrangement" can be understood as an arrangement of two or more vacuum chambers arranged in line. More specifically, an "in-line processing arrangement" as described herein can be configured for deposition of one or more layers on a vertical substrate. For instance, the one or more layers can be deposited in a stationary deposition process or a dynamic deposition process. The deposition process can be a PVD-process, e.g. sputter process, or a CVD process. An in-line processing arrangement, particularly configured for dynamic layer deposition, provides for a uniform processing of the substrate, for example, a large area substrate such as a rectangular glass plate. The processing tools, such as the one or more deposition sources, extend mainly in one direction (e.g., the vertical direction) and the substrate is moved in a second, different direction (e.g., a first transport direction 1 or a second transport direction , which can be horizontal directions as exemplarily shown in FIG. 7). Accordingly, on both sides of the respective vacuum processing chamber (31 OA, 310B), adjacent further vacuum chambers (321, 325 and 322, 326) may be provided.

[0061] Accordingly, in view of the above, it is to be understood that the embodiments as described herein provide for an improved lock valve for vacuum sealing, an improved vacuum chamber and an improved vacuum processing system with which at least some of the problems in the art can be overcome. In particular, embodiments as described herein provide for a lock valve having a prolonged lifetime. More specifically, embodiments of the lock valve as described herein are configured such that components of the lock valve are subjected to less wear than that of conventional lock valves. Accordingly, generation of particles due to friction can substantially be reduced or even eliminated. Accordingly, by employing a lock valve according to embodiments described herein in a vacuum chamber or a vacuum processing system, an improved vacuum chamber and an improved vacuum processing system can be provided. [0062] While the foregoing is directed to embodiments of the disclosure, other and further embodiments of the disclosure may be devised without departing from the basic scope thereof, and the scope thereof is determined by the claims that follow.

[0063] In particular, this written description uses examples to disclose the disclosure, including the best mode, and also to enable any person skilled in the art to practice the described subject-matter, including making and using any devices or systems and performing any incorporated methods. While various specific embodiments have been disclosed in the foregoing, mutually nonexclusive features of the embodiments described above may be combined with each other. The patentable scope is defined by the claims, and other examples are intended to be within the scope of the claims if the claims have structural elements that do not differ from the literal language of the claims, or if the claims include equivalent structural elements with insubstantial differences from the literal language of the claims.