A device removes, with high precision, the majority of surface particle contamination greater than 1-micron-diameter in size from ultrapure semiconductor wafer materials containing implanted solar wind samples returned by NASA’s Genesis mission. This cleaning device uses a 1.5- liter/minute flowing stream of heated ultrapure water (UPW) with 1-MHz oscillating megasonic pulse energy focused at 3 to 5 mm away from the wafer surface spinning at 1,000 to 10,000 RPM, depending on sample size.

The surface particle contamination is removed by three processes: flowing UPW, megasonic cavitations, and centripetal force from the spinning wafer. The device can also dry the wafer fragment after UPW/megasonic cleaning by continuing to spin the wafer in the cleaning chamber, which is purged with flowing ultrapure nitrogen gas at 65 psi (≈448 kPa). The cleaner also uses three types of vacuum chucks that can accommodate all Genesis-flown array fragments in any dimensional shape between 3 and 100 mm in diameter. A sample vacuum chuck, and the manufactured UPW/megasonic nozzle holder, replace the human deficiencies by maintaining a consistent distance between the nozzle and wafer surface as well as allowing for longer cleaning time. The 3- to 5-mm critical distance is important for the ability to remove particles by megasonic cavitations. The increased UPW sonication time and exposure to heated UPW improve the removal of 1- to 5-micron-sized particles.

This work was done by Judith H. Allton and Eileen K. Stansbery of Johnson Space Center, Michael J. Calaway of Jacobs Technology, and Melissa C. Rodriguez of Geocontrol Systems Inc. MSC 24499-1