Piezo linear actuator/manipulator replaces motorised actuators

Paul Boughton

Piezo systems specialist PI is introducing the N-380/N-381 NEXACT ceramic linear motor actuators at this year’s Photonics West conference in San Jose, CA, USA. The new actuator is based on the Piezo Walk principle and replaces classical lead screw actuators combining high forces and long travel ranges with sub-nanometer resolution in a small package.

Typical applications will include micromanipulation and nanomanipulation, nanotechnology, microscopy and optics, nano-imprint, laser tuning, semiconductor test and production equipment, biotechnology and medical technology.

NEXACT actuators provide piezo-class resolution (far below one nanometre) and millisecond responsiveness. In contrast to conventional piezo actuators, the new stepping technology allows virtually unlimited travel ranges while retaining the high stiffness, in a very small package.  The special drive design reduces the operating voltage to 40V or less, with minimal power consumption. 

In contrast to DC servo or stepper motor actuators, the piezo walk drive effects linear motion directly, without the need to transform rotation with gears and leadscrews. Backlash and wear are eliminated and the drive is maintenance-free. NEXACT actuators exhibit high stiffness and are self-locking when powered down with nanometre position stability, and zero heat dissipation or servo-dither at rest.

In operation, piezoceramic bending elements act on the ceramic runner, connected to the moving tip of the actuator. For long distance motion, the stepping mode is used. For smaller distances and for ultra-high dynamic motion, the analogue (sweep) mode can be employed. 

The actuator can be controlled through USB, RS-232 as well as with a joystick. The controller comes with a variety of software drivers and programming examples.

For more information, visit www.physikinstrumente.com

Recent Issues