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Title:
STATION AND METHOD FOR CLEANING A TRANSPORT ENCLOSURE FOR THE CONVEYING AND ATMOSPHERIC STORAGE OF SEMICONDUCTORS SUBSTRATES
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2021/058303
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
A cleaning station (2) for a transport enclosure (3) comprises an articulated robot arm (10) bearing at least one injector (11) and a control unit (12) configured to control the driving of the articulated robot arm (10) to introduce the at least one injector (11) into the rigid casing (4) coupled to the loading port (8) whose door (6) has been previously removed, and to displace the at least one injector (11) by following a predefined trajectory while sweeping the interior of the rigid casing (4) with the cleaning fluid simultaneously with the displacement of the articulated robot arm (10) in the rigid casing (4).

Inventors:
BELLET, Bertrand (98 Avenue de Brogny, ANNECY, FR)
BOUNOUAR, Julien (98 Avenue de Brogny, ANNECY, FR)
Application Number:
EP2020/075445
Publication Date:
April 01, 2021
Filing Date:
September 11, 2020
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
PFEIFFER VACUUM (ANNECY, FR)
International Classes:
B08B3/02; B08B9/08; H01L21/67; H01L21/673
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
CROONENBROEK, Thomas et al. (THONON LES BAINS, FR)
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Claims:
Claims

[Claim 1] Cleaning station (2) for a transport enclosure (3) for the conveying and atmospheric storage of semiconductor substrates, of FOUP or FOSB type, said transport enclosure (3) comprising a rigid casing (4) provided with a front opening (5) and a removable door (6) that makes it possible to close the front opening (5), the cleaning station (2) comprising a loading port (8) that can be coupled to the rigid casing (4), characterized in that the cleaning station (2) also comprises:

- an articulated robot arm (10) bearing at least one injector (11),

- a control unit (12) configured to control the driving of the articulated robot arm (10) to introduce the at least one injector (11) into the rigid casing (4) coupled to the loading port (8) whose door (6) has been previously been removed, and to displace the at least one injector (11 ) by following a predefined trajectory while sweeping the interior of the rigid casing (4) with the cleaning fluid simultaneously with the displacement of the articulated robot arm (10) in the rigid casing (4).

[Claim 2] Cleaning station (2) according to the preceding claim, characterized in that the articulated robot arm (10) comprises at least three axes.

[Claim 3] Cleaning station (2) according to one of the preceding claims, characterized in that the articulated robot arm (10) bears at least two injectors (11 ), such as between two and ten injectors (11 ), for example at least four injectors (11) arranged in one and the same plane.

[Claim 4] Cleaning station (2) according to one of the preceding claims, characterized in that the articulated robot arm (10) comprises at least one sensor.

[Claim 5] Cleaning station (2) according to one of the preceding claims, characterized in that it comprises a means for cleaning the end (13) of the articulated robot arm (10).

[Claim 6] Cleaning station (2) according to one of the preceding claims, characterized in that it comprises a door actuation means configured to displace the door (6) away from the casing (4), the cleaning station (2) also comprising at least one additional injector oriented towards the location of the door (6) to inject a cleaning fluid on the door (6) of the transport enclosure (3). [Claim 7] Cleaning station (2) according to one of Claims 1 to 5, characterized in that it comprises a door actuation means configured to displace the door (6) away from the casing (4), the articulated robot arm (10) being configured to be able to displace the at least one injector (11 ) facing the door by following an additional predefined trajectory while sweeping the interior side of the door (6) with the cleaning fluid.

[Claim 8] Cleaning station (2) according to one of Claims 1 to 5, characterized in that the articulated robot arm (10) is configured to grasp the door (6) and direct it facing an additional cleaning fluid injector.

[Claim 9] Cleaning station (2) according to one of the preceding claims, characterized in that it comprises a laminar flow filtering unit (14) for placing the articulated robot arm (10) under a laminar flow of filtered air.

[Claim 10] Cleaning station (2) according to one of the preceding claims, characterized in that it comprises a heating unit configured to heat the internal walls of the transport enclosure (3).

[Claim 11 ] Cleaning station (2) according to one of the preceding claims, characterized in that the cleaning fluid is a neutral and dry gas or a mixture of a purge gas and water vapour or a mixture of purge gas and liquid.

[Claim 12] Cleaning station (2) according to one of the preceding claims, characterized in that it comprises a device for generating a purge gas curtain (18) comprising a plurality of purge gas injectors arranged in line configured to form a gas curtain at the front opening (5) of the casing (4).

[Claim 13] Cleaning module (1), characterized in that it comprises at least two cleaning stations (2) according to one of the preceding claims, the cleaning stations (2) comprising complementary coupling means configured to couple the cleaning stations (2) to one another.

[Claim 14] Cleaning method (100) implemented in a cleaning station (2) according to one of Claims 1 to 12, characterized in that:

- the rigid casing (4) of the transport enclosure (3) is coupled to the loading port (8),

- the driving of the articulated robot arm (10) is controlled to introduce the at least one injector (11 ) into the rigid casing (4) and to displace the at least one injector (11 ) by following a predefined trajectory while sweeping the interior of the rigid casing (4) with the cleaning fluid simultaneously with the displacement of the articulated robot arm (10) in the rigid casing (4).

[Claim 15] Cleaning method (100) according to the preceding claim, characterized in that the predefined trajectory of the articulated robot arm (10) is programmed by learning, by making the articulated robot arm (10) memorize successive cartesian coordinates of the casing (4) or the predefined trajectory of the articulated robot arm (10) is programmed from a prestored model of a casing (4).

[Claim 16] Cleaning method (100) according to one of Claims 14 and 15, characterized in that the predefined trajectory is associated with a cleaning fluid injection recipe, the recipe defining at least one parameter out of:

- a speed of displacement of the at least one injector (11 ),

- a flow rate of cleaning fluid injected by the at least one injector (11 ),

- an injection time at a given location,

- a distance between the at least one injector (11 ) and the rigid casing (4). [Claim 17] Cleaning method (100) according to the preceding claim, characterized in that the cleaning fluid injection trajectory and/or recipe is selected as a function of information on the transport enclosure (3), like a measurement of a level of contamination of the transport enclosure (3).

[Claim 18] Cleaning method (100) according to one of Claims 14 to 17, characterized in that, during the sweeping of the rigid casing (4) by the cleaning fluid, the trajectory of the at least one injector (11 ) comprises an extended sweeping step (101a) during which the at least one injector (11) covers the interior of the rigid casing (4) with a speed of displacement of the at least one injector (11) that is constant and/or a distance between the at least one injector (11 ) and the rigid casing (4) that is constant.

[Claim 19] Cleaning method (100) according to the preceding claim, characterized in that the trajectory also comprises at least one localized sweeping step (101b) in a dead zone during which the speed of displacement of the at least one injector (11 ) is slowed down and/or the distance between the at least one injector (11 ) and the casing (4) is reduced.

[Claim 20] Cleaning method (100) according to one of Claims 14 to 19, characterized in that at the end of the sweeping of the rigid casing (4) by the cleaning fluid, the cleaning method (100) comprises a step of reconditioning (102) of the transport enclosure (3) during which the transport enclosure (3) is filled with a purge gas.

Description:
Description

Title of the invention: Station and method for cleaning a transport enclosure for the conveying and atmospheric storage of semiconductor substrates

[1] The present invention relates to a cleaning station for a transport enclosure for the conveying and atmospheric storage of semiconductor substrates such as semiconductor wafers. The invention relates also to a corresponding cleaning method.

[2] The transport enclosures determine a confined space at atmospheric pressure, separated from the outside environment for the transport and storage of one or more substrates. In the semiconductor fabrication industry, these enclosures make it possible to transport the substrates from one piece of equipment to another or store the substrates between two fabrication steps.

[3] These transport enclosures are formed from plastic materials such as polycarbonate, which can, in certain cases, concentrate the contaminants and in particular organic or gaseous contaminants, notably those given off by the substrates. These contaminations can be highly damaging for the substrates. Regular cleaning of the enclosures by washing with liquids such as pure water is therefore provided. These wet cleaning steps require the subsequent drying of the enclosures. The drying is generally performed by rapid rotation of the enclosure and/or depressurization, possibly associated with infrared radiation, which can be lengthy and intensive to implement in an industrial semiconductor fabrication process.

[4] To reduce the contamination in the enclosures, purging their internal atmosphere with a gas has already been considered, as for example described in the documents EP2926370 and EP2272083. These cleaning solutions offer the advantage of not needing a subsequent drying step.

[5] The document EP2926370 proposes the use of a parallelepipedal measurement head provided with injection nozzles, the measurement head protruding from an interface which is coupled to the enclosure in place of the door of the enclosure. However, despite a blowing by the nozzles closest to the internal walls and notably on each of the five internal faces, the measurement head does not make it possible to access all the internal surfaces of the enclosure. In fact, uncleaned dead zones can remain inside the enclosure.

[6] The document EP2272083 proposes the use of a purge gas injection nozzle disposed at a fixed or movable end of a pipe from the interface. This solution is however not totally satisfactory because the mobility of the nozzle is limited at the end of the pipe protruding from the interface, nor does it allow the nozzle to access all the internal surfaces of the enclosure.

[7] One of the aims of the present invention is therefore to propose a cleaning station and method which can clean all the internal surfaces of the atmospheric transport enclosure.

[8] To this end, the subject of the invention is a cleaning station for a transport enclosure for the conveying and atmospheric storage of semiconductor substrates, of FOUP or FOSB type, said transport enclosure comprising a rigid casing provided with a front opening and a removable door making it possible to close the front opening, the cleaning station comprising a loading port that can be coupled to the rigid casing, characterized in that the cleaning station also comprises:

- an articulated robot bearing at least one injector,

- a control unit configured to control the driving of the articulated robot arm to introduce the at least one injector into the rigid casing coupled to the loading port whose door has been previously removed, and to displace the at least one injector by following a predefined trajectory while sweeping the interior of the rigid casing with a cleaning fluid simultaneously with the displacement of the articulated robot arm in the rigid casing.

[9] The station allows the cleaning of the organic or gaseous contaminants of the transport enclosure, notably particles and gaseous species originating from the airborne molecular contamination (or AMC).

[10] Furthermore, the cleaning station does not include a dedicated chamber. It is the casing of the transport enclosure which itself forms a chamber. This casing can be cleaned without being displaced, while it remains coupled to the loading port.

[11] The articulated robot arm is programmable. It can be displaced accurately which makes it possible to follow the specific form of the interior of the casing of the transport enclosure. It can also be displaced rapidly, which makes it possible to reduce the treatment time per transport enclosure. It can also be displaced with repeatability and therefore with a better control of the cleaning process. The distance between the at least one injector and the casing is controlled, which makes it possible to clean the enclosure reproducibly from one transport enclosure to another. The sweeping of the interior of the rigid casing with the cleaning fluid simultaneously with the displacement of the articulated robot arm makes it possible to obtain a controlled, uniform and precise cleaning of the internal surfaces of the rigid casing.

[12] The cleaning station can also comprise one or more of the features which are described hereinbelow, taken alone or in combination.

[13] The articulated robot arm comprises, for example, at least three axes. An articulated robot arm having three axes at least offers a very great flexibility of displacement and of orientation of the at least one injector with respect to the interior of the rigid casing of the transport enclosure in all the three-dimensional directions while controlling the distance between the at least one injector and the casing.

[14] The articulated robot arm bears, for example, at least two injectors, such as between two and ten injectors, for example at least four injectors arranged in one and the same plane. Using several injectors makes it possible to increase the surface area swept during a pass of the articulated robot arm, which makes it possible to reduce the cleaning time.

[15] The articulated robot arm can comprise at least one sensor.

[16] The cleaning station can comprise a means for cleaning the end of the articulated robot arm.

[17] The cleaning station can comprise a door actuation means configured to displace the door away from the casing, the cleaning station also comprising at least one additional injector oriented towards the location of the door to inject a cleaning fluid on the door of the transport enclosure.

[18] The cleaning station can comprise a door actuation means configured to displace the door away from the casing, the articulated robot arm being configured to be able to displace the at least one injector facing the door by following an additional predefined trajectory while sweeping the interior side of the door with the cleaning fluid.

[19] The articulated robot arm can be configured to grasp the door and direct it facing an additional cleaning fluid injector. [20] The cleaning station can comprise a laminar flow filtering unit for placing the articulated robot arm under a laminar flow of filtered air.

[21] The cleaning station can comprise a heating unit configured to heat the internal walls of the transport enclosure.

[22] The cleaning fluid is, for example, a neutral and dry gas or a mixture of a purge gas and water vapour or a mixture of purge gas and liquid.

[23] The cleaning station can comprise a device for generating a purge gas curtain, such as dry nitrogen, comprising a plurality of purge gas injectors arranged in line configured to form a gas curtain at the front opening of the casing. The gas curtain makes it possible to reduce the fluidic communication between the inside and the outside of the transport enclosure.

[24] Another subject of the invention is a cleaning module, characterized in that it comprises at least two cleaning stations as described previously, the cleaning stations comprising complementary coupling means configured to couple the cleaning stations to one another. [25] Yet another subject of the invention is a cleaning method implemented in a cleaning station as described previously, characterized in that:

- the rigid casing of the transport enclosure is coupled to the loading port,

- the driving of the articulated robot arm is controlled to introduce the at least one injector into the rigid casing and to displace the at least one injector by following a predefined trajectory while sweeping the interior of the rigid casing with the cleaning fluid simultaneously with the displacement of the articulated robot arm in the rigid casing.

[26] The cleaning method can also comprise one or more features which are described hereinbelow, taken alone or in combination. [27] The predefined trajectory of the articulated robot arm can be programmed by learning, by making the articulated robot arm memorize successive cartesian coordinates of the casing. [28] According to another example, the predefined trajectory of the articulated robot arm is programmed from a prestored model of a casing.

[29] The predefined trajectory is for example associated with a cleaning fluid injection recipe, the recipe defining at least one parameter out of: - a speed of displacement of the at least one injector,

- a flow rate of cleaning fluid injected by the at least one injector,

- an injection time at a given location,

- a distance between the at least one injector and the rigid casing.

[30] The cleaning fluid injection trajectory and/or recipe can be selected as a function of information on the transport enclosure, like a measurement of a level of contamination of the transport enclosure.

[31 ] During the sweeping of the rigid casing by the cleaning fluid, the trajectory of the at least one injector can comprise an extended sweeping step during which the at least one injector covers the interior of the rigid casing with a speed of displacement of the at least one injector that is constant and/or a distance between the at least one injector and the rigid casing that is constant.

[32] The trajectory can also comprise at least one localized sweeping step in a dead zone during which the speed of displacement of the at least one injector is slowed down and/or the distance between the at least one injector and the casing is reduced.

[33] At the end of the sweeping of the rigid casing by the cleaning fluid, the cleaning method can comprise a step of reconditioning of the transport enclosure during which the transport enclosure is filled with a purge gas, such as dry nitrogen. [34] Other advantages and features will become apparent on reading the description of an illustrative but nonlimiting example of the present invention, and the attached drawings in which:

[35] [Fig.1] Figure 1 represents a perspective view of a cleaning module comprising three cleaning stations, each being coupled to a respective transport enclosure.

[36] [Fig.2] Figure 2 represents a perspective view of a cleaning station of the cleaning module of Figure 1. [37] [Fig.3] Figure 3 shows a perspective view of a transport enclosure of Figure 2, with the door open.

[38] [Fig.4] Figure 4 shows an enlarged view of an articulated robot arm of the cleaning station of Figure 2, during displacement of the at least one injector facing the door following an additional predefined trajectory to sweep the interior side of the door with the cleaning fluid.

[39] [Fig.5] Figure 5 shows a flow diagram of an example of cleaning method implemented in a cleaning station.

[40] In these figures, the elements that are identical bear the same reference numbers.

[41] The following embodiments are examples. Although the description refers to one or more embodiments, that does not necessarily mean that each reference relates to the same embodiment, or that the features apply only to a single embodiment. Simple features of different embodiments can also be combined or swapped to provide other embodiments.

[42] Figure 1 represents an example of cleaning module 1.

[43] The cleaning module 1 comprises at least two cleaning stations 2, three in the example illustrated in Figure 1. The cleaning stations 2 can comprise complementary coupling means configured to couple the cleaning stations 2 to one another.

[44] Each station 2 makes it possible to clean a transport enclosure 3 for the conveying and atmospheric storage of semiconductor substrates, of FOUP type, FOUP being the acronym for Front-Opening Unified Pod, or FOSP type, FOSP being the acronym for Front-Opening Shipping Box. [45] These transport enclosures 3 are boxes made of plastic material, such as polycarbonate, designed to contain 300 mm semiconductor substrates, such as silicon wafers, in a controlled environment and to allow the transfer of these wafers between machines for treatment or measurement purposes.

[46] The FOSB enclosures are used to convey the wafers outside of the fabrication installations.

[47] As can be seen better in Figure 3, a transport enclosure 3 for the conveying and atmospheric storage of semiconductor substrates of FOUP or FOSP type comprises a rigid casing 4 (or shell) provided with a front opening 5 and a removable door 6 making it possible to close the front opening 5. The front opening 5 is dimensioned to allow substrates to be introduced and extracted.

[48] For the cleaning, the transport enclosures 3 are emptied of their substrates.

[49] Returning to Figure 1 , it can be seen that the cleaning station 2 also comprises an interface 7 provided with a loading port 8 arranged under an entrance to the cleaning station 2. The loading port 8 can be coupled to the rigid casing 4 of the transport enclosure 3 of FOUP or FOSP type by allowing it to be received and positioned.

[50] The loading port 8 can comprise a recognition sensor configured to identify the model of the transport enclosure 3, notably to ensure that it is indeed compatible with the cleaning station 2 receiving the transport enclosure 3. The recognition sensor is, for example, a camera in which the image processing makes it possible to read the content of a label identifying the transport enclosure 3 or makes it possible to distinguish a model of the handle 9 of the transport enclosure 3, for example according to its grey level or its form.

[51] Also, the cleaning station 2 can comprise a presence sensor making it possible to check, once the transport enclosure 3 is open, that the rigid casing 4 is indeed emptied of its substrates.

[52] The cleaning station 2 also comprises an articulated robot arm 10 carrying at least one injector 11 (Figure 4) and a control unit 12 configured to control the driving of the articulated robot arm 10 (Figure 1).

[53] The articulated robot arm 10 bears, for example, at least two injectors 11 , such as between two and ten injectors 11 , for example at least four injectors 11 arranged in one and the same plane, for example aligned or arranged staggered. Using several injectors 11 makes it possible to increase the surface area swept during a pass of the articulated robot arm 10, which makes it possible to reduce the cleaning time.

[54] The injectors 11 are connected to gas and/or liquid intake systems.

[55] The cleaning fluid is, for example, a neutral and dry gas, for example nitrogen or clean dry air, or CDA. The injectors 11 are also provided with particle filters to filter any polluting particles out of the injected gas.

[56] It is also possible to inject a wet gaseous mixture, notably to guarantee the cleaning of certain chemical compounds potentially present on the surface of the transport enclosure 3, such as hydrofluoric acid. The cleaning fluid then comprises a mixture of a purge gas, such as dry nitrogen or dry air, and water vapour.

[57] The cleaning gas can also comprise a mixture of purge gas and of liquid. The liquid, such as liquid water, is for example injected in low proportions in the mixture to be able to be completely evaporated at the end of the cleaning method 100.

[58] The flow rate of gas from the injectors 11 is, for example, greater than 40 l/min, such as between 50 l/min and 60 l/min per injector 11, the flow rate decreasing with the increase in the number of injectors 11. The diameter of an injector 11 is for example between 0.8 mm and 1.6 mm. The purge gas supply pressure is for example 4 bar.

[59] The articulated robot arm 10 is, for example, a robot arm with three or more axes, that is to say comprising at least three axes of rotation. An articulated robot arm 10 having at least three axes at least offers a very great flexibility of displacement and of orientation of the at least one injector 11 with respect to the interior of the rigid casing 4 of the transport enclosure 3 in all the three- dimensional directions while controlling the distance between the at least one injector 11 and the casing 4.

[60] The articulated robot arm 10 is for example motorized or uses pneumatic cylinders. It is programmable. It can be displaced accurately, which makes it possible to follow the specific form of the interior of the casing 4 of the transport enclosure 3. It can also be displaced rapidly, which makes it possible to reduce the treatment time per transport enclosure 3. It can also be displaced with repeatability and therefore with a better control of the cleaning process.

[61] The control unit 12 is configured to control the driving of the articulated robot arm 10 to introduce the at least one injector 11 into the rigid casing 4 coupled to the loading port 8 whose door 6 has been previously removed and to displace the at least one injector 11 by following a predefined trajectory while sweeping the interior of the rigid casing 4 with a cleaning fluid simultaneously with the displacement of the articulated robot arm 10 in the rigid casing 4. The predefined trajectory is, for example, the movement reproducing the general internal form of the transport enclosure 3, making it possible to sweep all the internal surface of the casing 4 of the transport enclosure 3. The sweeping of the interior of the rigid casing 4 with the cleaning fluid simultaneously with the displacement of the articulated robot arm 10 makes it possible to obtain a controlled, uniform and precise cleaning of the internal surfaces of the rigid casing 4.

[62] The movements of the articulated robot arm 10 defining the predefined trajectory can be programmed by learning. This method makes it possible to create the trajectories by making the articulated robot arm 10 memorize successive cartesian coordinates of the casing 4. This learning step can be performed at the factory release stage.

[63] Another method makes it possible to program the trajectory from a prestored model of a casing 4. This prestored model of a casing 4 is for example a CAD model of the casing 4.

[64] According to another example, the prestored model of a casing 4 is obtained using a sensor of the articulated robot arm 10, such as an optical sensor like a camera or such as a feeler or a proximity sensor or a sonic sensor.

[65] The sensor of the articulated robot arm 10 can also form the recognition sensor configured to identify the model of transport enclosure 3, for example by feeling four points of the casing 4.

[66] The cleaning station 2 can also comprise a door actuation means configured to displace the door 6 away from the casing 4 coupled to the loading port 8.

[67] The door actuation means comprises, for example, a motorized linear actuator 17 for displacing the door 6 by a linear translation, for example horizontal (Figure 4).

[68] According to another exemplary embodiment, the articulated robot arm 10 is configured to form the door actuation means by making it possible to displace the door 6 away from the casing 4 of the transport enclosure 3, in a dedicated location of the cleaning station 2.

[69] The door actuation means can also be configured to lock and unlock the locking members of the door 6. The door locking members, known in themselves, for example comprise latches, borne by the door 6, actuated by radial or lateral sliding and engaging in the rigid casing 4 of the transport enclosure 3 when the transport enclosure 3 is closed. Once the locking members are unlocked, the door actuation means reversibly secures the door 6. The door 6 can then be taken out of the front opening 5, for example opposite it.

[70] Also, the cleaning station 2 can comprise a means for cleaning the end 13 of the articulated robot arm 10, such as a gas spray head, arranged in a dedicated zone of the cleaning station 2.

[71 ] Several solutions are also possible for cleaning the door 6 of the transport enclosure 3.

[72] According to a first example, the cleaning station 2 comprises at least one additional injector oriented towards the location of the door 6 to inject a cleaning fluid onto the door 6 of the transport enclosure 3. It is thus possible to clean the door 6 of the transport enclosure 3 concurrently.

[73] According to another example, the articulated robot arm 10 is configured to be able to displace the at least one injector 11 facing the door 6 by following an additional predefined trajectory while sweeping the interior side of the door with the cleaning fluid (see Figure 4).

[74] According to yet another example, the articulated robot arm 10 is configured to grasp the door 6 and direct it facing an additional cleaning fluid injector.

[75] Moreover, to improve the detachment of the contaminants and/or to enhance the degassing of the gaseous species originating from the airborne molecular contamination and/or to speed up the evaporation of the wet or liquid gaseous mixtures injected by the at least one injector 11 , the cleaning station 2 can comprise a heating unit configured to heat internal walls of the transport enclosure 3, such as an infrared lamp.

[76] Furthermore, in the case where the cleaning fluid is a dry gas, the heating unit can be configured to heat the cleaning fluid.

[77] The cleaning station 2 can also comprise a particle collector to facilitate the evacuation of the contaminating particles and/or a particle counter and/or an analyser of gaseous species originating from the airborne molecular contamination, to check the state of cleanliness of the transport enclosure 3, before and/or after cleaning. The particle collector is for example disposed under the floor of the cleaning station 2 or it can be borne by the articulated robot arm 10. [78] The cleaning station 2 can comprise a device for generating a purge gas curtain 18, such as dry nitrogen, comprising a plurality of purge gas injectors arranged in line configured to form a gas curtain at the front opening 5 of the casing 4. The gas curtain makes it possible to reduce the fluidic communication between the inside and the outside of the transport enclosure 3. The device for generating a purge gas curtain is for example arranged at the loading port 8 (Figure 2).

[79] The cleaning station 2 can also comprise a laminar flow filtering unit 14 for placing the articulated robot arm 10 under a laminar flow of filtered air (Figures 1 and 2). The laminar flow filtering unit 14 comprises air filters for filtering the particles originating from the outside air which penetrate into the cleaning station 2. The laminar flow filtering unit 14 also comprises flow diffusing means for diffusing the filtered air in a laminar flow, for example from the top of the cleaning station 2 downwards. The laminar flow filtering unit 14 thus makes it possible to limit the ingress of any particles generated by the circulation of the air or by the components moving in the cleaning station 2, and to control the evacuation thereof.

[80] The control unit 12 of the cleaning station 2 which controls the interface 7, the articulated robot arm 10, the injection of the cleaning fluid in the at least one injector 11, can be connected to a user interface 15, comprising, for example, in particular a screen and a keyboard that can be seen in Figure 1.

[81] The cleaning station 2 can also comprise an electrical cabinet 16 making it possible to power and house all or some of the electrical components of the cleaning station 2. The electrical cabinet 16 is advantageously remote from the laminar flow filtering unit 14, thus avoiding the contamination of the articulated robot arm 10 by the different components housed in the electrical cabinet 16. The control unit 12, the user interface 15 and the electrical cabinet 16 can be common to several cleaning stations 2 (Figure 1).

[82] An example of cleaning method 100 implemented in a cleaning station 2 (Figure 5) will now be described.

[83] The rigid casing 4 of the transport enclosure 3 is coupled to the loading port 8. For that, an operator or a robot places the transport enclosure 3 on the loading port 8. The loading port 8 positions and checks the model of transport enclosure 3, then clamps the rigid casing 4 of the transport enclosure 3 and advances it against the entrance of the cleaning station 2.

[84] Then, the door actuation means unlocks the door 6 and displaces it away from the casing 4.

[85] Then, the driving of the articulated robot arm 10 is controlled to introduce the at least one injector 11 into the rigid casing 4 and to displace the at least one injector 11 by following a predefined trajectory while sweeping the interior of the rigid casing 4 with the cleaning fluid simultaneously with the displacement of the articulated robot arm 10 in the rigid casing 4 (cleaning step 101). The predefined trajectory is, for example, the movement reproducing the general internal form of the transport enclosure 3, making it possible to sweep all the internal surface of the casing 4 of the transport enclosure 3.

[86] The articulated robot arm 10 can be controlled so that the distance between the at least one injector 11 and the coupled rigid casing 4 is less than or equal to twenty millimetres, such as 15 mm +1-5 mm.

[87] The predefined trajectory can be associated with a cleaning fluid injection recipe, the recipe defining at least one parameter out of:

- a speed of displacement of the at least one injector 11 ,

- a flow rate of cleaning fluid injected by the at least one injector 11 ,

- an injection time at a given location,

- a distance between the at least one injector 11 and the rigid casing 4.

[88] The cleaning fluid injection trajectory and/or recipe can be selected as a function of information on the transport enclosure 3, like a measurement of a level of contamination of the transport enclosure 3 or like the origin of the transport enclosure 3.

[89] The origin of the enclosure 3 is for example identified by means of the recognition sensor of the loading port 8 of the interface 7 and of the sensor of the articulated robot arm 10. It is for example possible to extend the cleaning fluid injection times for the transport enclosures 3 that have conveyed and stored substrates originating from particularly polluting fabricating steps.

[90] The measurement of the level of contamination of the transport enclosure 3 is for example performed beforehand and/or performed by a particle counter of the cleaning station 2, for example arranged at the output of the particle collector and/or by an analyser of gaseous species. The flow rate of cleaning fluid is for example increased or pulsed in the case of high particle measurements or in the case of high gaseous contamination measurements.

[91 ] According to an exemplary embodiment, during the sweeping of the rigid casing 4 by the cleaning fluid (cleaning step 101), the trajectory of the at least one injector 11 can comprise an extended sweeping step 101a during which the at least one injector 11 covers the interior of the rigid casing 4 with a speed of displacement of the at least one injector 11 that is constant and/or with a distance between the at least one injector 11 and the rigid casing 4 that is constant.

[92] A variation of distance between the at least one injector 11 and the rigid casing 4 around an average distance less than 20% can for example be qualified as “constant distance”. The average distance is for example 15 mm +1-5 mm.

[93] A speed variation between the at least one injector 11 and the rigid casing 4 around an average speed less than 20% can for example be qualified as “constant speed”. The average speed (in translation) is for example 10 cm/s +/- 5 cm/s.

[94] The trajectory can also comprise at least one localized sweeping step 101 b in a dead zone, during which the speed of displacement of the at least one injector

11 is slowed down and/or the distance between the at least one injector 11 and the casing 4 is reduced relative to the distances and speed of the extended sweeping step 101a. The average distance is for example divided by two and/or the average speed is multiplied by three.

[95] The dead zone is, for example, situated at the substrate support fingers or in the corners of the casing 4 or at the filters of the purge ports of the casing 4.

[96] The at least one localized sweeping step 101 b for example follows the extended sweeping step 101a (Figure 5). The dead zones can be identified during the extended sweeping step 101a, notably when the cleaning station 2 comprises a particle counter or a gaseous species analyser.

[97] The at least one localized sweeping step 101 b can be concurrent with the extended sweeping step 101. Thus, for example, the at least one injector 11 covers the interior of the rigid casing 4 with a speed of displacement and a distance that are constant, the speed of displacement of the at least one injector 11 being slowed down and/or the distance between the at least one injector 11 and the casing 4 being reduced at the dead zones.

[98] At the end of the sweeping of the rigid casing 4 by the cleaning fluid, the cleaning method 100 can comprise a step of reconditioning 102 of the transport enclosure 3 during which the transport enclosure 3 is filled with a purge gas such as dry nitrogen. The filling with purge gas can be performed via purge gas injection ports of the loading port 8 configured to inject a purge gas through the purge ports of the casing 4 of the transport enclosure 3. The reconditioning step 102 can be performed concurrently, during the cleaning of the door 6. [99] It is also possible to fill the enclosure 3 whose door 6 is open by other means, for example by means of a purge gas injection port situated facing the front opening 5 of the casing 4. This embodiment offers the advantage of allowing the transport enclosure 3 to be filled with purge gas concurrently, during the few seconds needed to clean the door 6. [100] Thus, it is understood that the cleaning station 2 allows the cleaning of the organic or gaseous contaminants of the transport enclosure 3. Furthermore, the cleaning station 2 does not include any dedicated chamber. It is the casing 4 of the transport enclosure 3 which itself forms a chamber. This casing 4 can be cleaned without being displaced, while it remains coupled to the loading port 8. [101 ] The distance between the at least one injector 11 and the casing 4 is controlled, which makes it possible to clean enclosures reproducibly from one transport enclosure 3 to another.