Ultra-High Precision Positioning Actuators to Align Mirror Segments in the E-ELT Telescope

Hybrid Concept Using Piezo / Voice Coil and Screw Drives for the E-ELT Telescope

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The combination of “coarse” precision screw drives for long distance motion and ultra-high resolution actuators such as piezo and voice-coil-based systems allows combining travel ranges up to hundreds of millimeters with response, smoothness and resolutions not achievable with conventional drives. The short-distance actuators take on a role analogous to the transducers used in active vibration cancellation systems. Several standard positioning systems based on this principle have been commercially available for some time (e.g., the M-511.HD linear stage) and highly specialized designs for applications in astronomy are currently being evaluated. Two different prototypes were designed for the E-ELT telescope, a 39m diameter telescope, segmented in about 800 hexagonal mirrors. For testing the control stability, the vibration influence and handling functions two concepts are chosen, a very stiff actuator consisting of a screw drive and piezo modules, and a soft actuator based on a spring/voice coil system.

Both designs achieve similar resolution, but with different passive stiffness properties. The soft actuator is better at decoupling vibrations originating from the telescope frame. For stable and hard coupling of the mirror to the frame structure, the piezo-hybrid actuator is preferred.

Figure 1. Single mirror section with three actuators (ESO)
Figure 1. Single mirror section with three actuators (ESO)

Both actuators meet the same requirements: 15mm travel range and – at the same time – an extremely accurate positioning and tracing performance of better than 2nm RMS. The mass load and the different orientations between zero and 90 degree lead to a resulting force range of zero to 900N.

During observation of stars and extrasolar planets sub-nanometer tracking accuracy is required.

Actuator Designs

The exact position of the mirror segments is influenced by two error sources: wind load and distortions from the back structure, mainly caused by vibrations from the cooling system. Both the soft or stiff actuator concept is good at solving one problem, but sub-optimal for the other problem.

Figure 2. Hybrid actuator prototypes (3 for each of the 1000 mirror elements are necessary)
Figure 2. Hybrid actuator prototypes (3 for each of the 1000 mirror elements are necessary)

The long range motion is achieved by brushless motors with harmonic drive gearheads and a stiff roller screw. Piezo stack actuators overcome the roughness and stick-slip effects and also meet the high accuracy requirements. The position is measured via one high resolution optical sensor. Its excellent amplitude and phase stability allows an interpolation factor of 2000 and results in a resolution of 0.125nm. It is very important that the short term interpolation error does not exceed 1.7nm.

Fig 2a. Hybrid actuator prototype
Figure 2a. Hybrid actuator prototype

Voice Coil vs. Piezo-Stack Drives

Figure 3. Hybrid roller-screw / piezo actuator design
Figure 3. Hybrid roller-screw / piezo actuator design

 

Figure 3a. Animation of a Hybrid ball-screw / piezo actuator linear positioner
Figure 3a. Animation of a Hybrid ball-screw / piezo actuator linear positioner

For lifetime and low power dissipation requirements, a brushless torque motor was used as well as for the large dynamics range of 250µm/s. The motor drives a 0.5mm pitch roller screw through a 100:1 harmonic drive, chosen for its constant transmission ratio and -very important- backlash free operation.

Figure 4. Hybrid roller screw / spring-voice-coil combination
Figure 4. Hybrid roller screw / spring-voice-coil combination

Controller Hardware and Firmware

The hardware consists of a small embedded PC-platform (QSeven module with Intel Atom 270 processor) and the “OnTime” real-time operating system with an FPGA for real time and interface access. Within the FPGA hardware-clock-buffered sensor inputs and a synchronized output buffers are implemented.

The servo motor is driven by a PWM signal and the piezo amplifier gets its input from a 24bit D/A converter, resulting in a command resolution of less than 1pm (picometer).

The control scheme is accomplished via two parallel loop structures – one for the torque motor and one for the piezo module and the voice coil module, respectively. The control filter consists of PI, notch and low pass filters for the piezo part and PID, notch and low pass filters for the motor part. For the voice coil module, the PI filter is replaced by a PID filter.

Figure 5. Nyquist plot to show the control stability
Figure 5. Nyquist plot to show the control stability

No additional integral term is necessary because of the motor transfer function’s integral property. The controller behavior was simulated with MATLAB.

Figure 6. Single control loop structure of one hybrid actuator
Figure 6. Single control loop structure of one hybrid actuator

System Test

Figure 7. Actuator in closed loop; motor part only
Figure 7. Actuator in closed loop; motor part only

Fig. 7 shows the typical system error between trajectory (target) and actual motion of a single motorized system. During the first few milliseconds after a start from zero velocity, the system will stick for a while and the motion is determined by small vibration due to the roughness of the drive screw and bearings.

Figure 8. Closed loop operation with both hybrid actuator parts active and under mass load conditions (tracking deviation in laboratory conditions is better than 0.8nm RMS).
Figure 8. Closed loop operation with both hybrid actuator parts active and under mass load conditions (tracking deviation in laboratory conditions is better than 0.8nm RMS).

Authors: Rainer Gloess, Christian Enkrich, Kurt Zimmermann, Jeremias Reith, Physik Instrumente (PI) GmbH &Co. KG, Karlsruhe, Germany

> LEARN more on Piezo Motors / Hexapods in Astronomy Applications

> Different High Precision Actuator Technologies

> READ about “Adaptive Optics for the E-ELT: Deformable Mirror with 11,000 Actuators”

> LEARN more about Standard Hybrid Linear Stages

> WATCH video, “Hybrid Linear Positioning Stage”

> READ more articles

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About PI

PI (Physik Instrumente) is a leading manufacturer of precision motion control equipment, piezo motors, air bearing stages and hexapod parallel-kinematics for semiconductor applications, photonics, bio-nano-technology and medical engineering. PI has been developing and manufacturing standard & custom precision products with piezoceramic and electromagnetic drives for 4 decades. The company has been ISO 9001 certified since 1994 and provides innovative, high-quality solutions for OEM and research. PI is present worldwide with fifteen subsidiaries, R&D / engineering on 3 continents and total staff of more than 1,000.

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