Piezoelectric ceramic linear motor is 'smallest'

Paul Boughton

At 1.5 x 1.5 x 6mm, the latest piezoelectric Squiggle motor from New Scale Technologies is said to be half the size of other micro-motors, yet it is also claimed to be offer ten times the precision and push force.

It is energy-efficient, too, so designers of mobile devices can add motion and new capabilities that have been beyond reach until now.

New Scale Technologies says that its latest Squiggle motor is the smallest linear motor on the market, and it offers a 20gramme push force and sub-micron position resolution.

“The SQL-1.5 opens a whole new range of performance for miniature electronic systems such as phone cameras and medical devices,” says New Scale president David Henderson. “Designers of leading-edge mobile devices finally have a precise, reliable linear motor that fits within their size and power budgets. They can add motion - and hence new capabilities - where they were unable to do so before.”

The SQL-1.5 has been designed into next-generation auto-focus and optical zoom assemblies by leading camera module developers in support of top-tier handset manufacturers. Focus and zoom capabilities have become an essential ingredient in the drive to deliver smaller, thinner handsets with the image quality of digital still cameras.

“Even by the most conservative handset sales forecasts, phone cameras alone represent a new market for one billion motors a year,” Henderson says. “The requirements of these cameras can not be met by current motor technologies.”

The SQL-1.5 is also of interest to medical device manufacturers for a new class of implantable drug pumps and micro-valves. The motor itself is tiny, but its high precision is what enables the most dramatic reduction in overall device size. It provides more precise valve control, which permits more concentrated medications and therefore smaller fluid reservoirs. The patented ceramic motor design generates no magnetic fields and can be made of non-ferrous materials, making it MRI-safe and image compatible.

The SQL-1.5 Squiggle motor's specifications include: a stroke of 10mm (customisable); a resolution of better than 100nm; a speed (no load) of up to 10mm/s; a typical input power (moving) of 400mW; and zero power consumption when stationary.

An SQL-1.5 Squiggle motor evaluation kit will be available to qualified OEMs for delivery in July 2006. This kit includes an SQL-1.5 Squiggle motor, drive electronics card, cables, and computer control software including an Activex command library.
The patented Squiggle motor design uses a threaded screw and nut to create precise linear movement in a very small space. Piezoelectric ceramics create ultrasonic vibrations in the nut, causing the screw to rotate and translate with high precision. Squiggle motors are smaller, more precise, less expensive and more efficient than conventional electromagnetic motors. In addition, they use 90 per cent fewer parts and require no gear reduction, which eliminates many failure modes. The patented ultrasonic motor design has much lower power consumption than miniature electromagnetic motors and holds its position when the power is turned off, further conserving battery life. This ceramic motor is fundamentally compatible with high magnetic fields including MRI chambers.

Squiggle motors are used in nanotechnology research, microelectronics, optics, lasers, biotechnology, medical devices, aerospace and defence, fluid control, and office/consumer products including mobile phone cameras.

For more information, visit www.newscaletech.com


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