Article | May 15, 2012

Advances In Piezo Actuation: Flexure Drives, Ultrasonics, And Piezo-Walk Linear Motors

Source: PI (Physik Instrumente) LP

By Scott Jordan and Stefan Vorndran, PI (Physik Instrumente) L.P.

Piezoelectric actuation is the foundation for a multitude of mission-critical high-technology applications, from semiconductor manufacturing to atomic-force microscopy, from optical tweezers to sub-pixel imaging, from bore-sight systems to genomic sequencing and medical devices. Long known for their nanometer precise motion capability, piezoelectric principles are proving highly adaptable to new configurations and modalities. Recently developed mechanisms triggered by a variety of novel applications of piezoelectric technology have done away with the former travel limitations familiar from early nanopositioning mechanisms. But like those time-tested mechanisms, those built on these newer principles offer high force, exceptional speeds, compactness, fieldlessness, and stable positionhold.

Need for Smaller and Higher Precision Positioning Systems

In a variety of fields, applications are placing conflicting demands on structural and motion subassemblies. Increasingly, positions must be controlled in more degrees of freedom with higher dynamic and static accuracy, yet faster throughputs and longer travels are necessary to meet financial metrics. Compactness is prized, yet high speeds are demanded. These conflicting requirements have, until recently, had no solution.