Multi-Axis Alignment Stage For Silicon Photonics Applications: F-143

PI - F-143

The F-143 is a unique photonics alignment system consisting of a multi-axis, frictionless air bearing stage and an ACS / EtherCat-based high-performance motion controller with embedded first light search and alignment algorithms. 

Precision motion stages, such as the ones used in by PI’s F-143 alignment system, play a vital role in achieving superior outcomes with optimal efficiency in silicon photonics and fiber alignment procedures. Equally crucial are the control software and embedded algorithms, i.e., the intelligence that tells the mechanics where to go. Especially in industrial test and production of photonics chips, speed is extremely important, since 80% of production cost is directly related to alignment time. Swift and efficient alignments lead to enhanced alignment precision and increased throughput, ultimately enhancing production efficiency and product quality.

Finding Photons Faster: Unique Combination Achieves 10 to 100 Times Faster Alignment

The combination of direct-drive, frictionless, and maintenance-free alignment stages with sophisticated first light search and alignment routines results in extraordinary time savings, critical in silicon photonics alignment automation. Our customers have seen up to 100 times faster alignment with our new algorithms compared to conventional alignment systems.

Alignment Stage Specifications

The mechanics of the F-143 system consists of three A-143 stages and provides an XYZ travel range of 25mm, a maximum velocity of 150mm/sec, and acceleration up to 10m/s². Each axis is driven by a three-phase linear motor and controlled by an integrated absolute measuring linear encoder providing 1nm resolution. The preloaded air bearings guarantee exceptional flatness and straightness of 0.25µm and 0.05µm, respectively. Additionally, the vertical axis stage is equipped with an adjustable counterbalance and brake mechanism to offset the force of gravity on the motor and prevent potential collisions with a SiPh wafer in the event of a power failure.

Controller / Software

The A-143 fiber alignment system is delivered with an A-814 series motion controller, preloaded with high performance automatic photonics alignment routines. In addition to several first light search routines, a high-speed gradient search for peak finding and tracking is also installed.