Motion Control – Evolving Nanopositioning Systems

Nanopositioning systems move and arrange stages and samples with incredible precision at nanometer and sub-nanometer scales (motion control). They can position themselves within tens of nanometers and possibly even single-digit nanometers, making them ideal for applications requiring extremely precise measurement, such as space telescopes and microscopes. And the capabilities of nanopositioning systems go beyond that.

Nanopositioning systems, which are made up of various components depending on the application, can be used as part of an integrated approach to motion control and are used for more than just nanometer resolution.

Linear motor stages, air-bearing stages, voice-coil drives, and magnetic levitation systems are common components of nanopositioning systems. All have become industry standards for providing repeatable nanometer step resolution while overcoming challenges such as friction, lag times, and instability that are common with traditional motorized positioners. Using piezo actuators, flexures, and position sensors with closed-loop feedback control can improve the stability, resolution, and repeatability of nanopositioning systems for motion control.

Flexures in piezo stages, also known as closed-loop nanopositioners, provide friction-free guiding that restricts motion to one direction. A single-directional flexure pattern guides motion along each axis, allowing for smooth, continuous motion. Flexures enable highly repeatable motion with minimal positional noise.

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