Sub-Nanometer Resolution Sensors: Nano-Measuring / Nano-Metrology

Non-Contacting Sensors for Nanometer Precision Measurement and Positioning


Capacitance Sensors Measure better than 1 Nanometer Resolution

Capacitance (capacitive) displacement sensors are absolute-measuring, high-dynamics nano-metrology devices providing the highest linearity and accuracy. PI capacitance sensors / signal conditioner electronics make use of a high-frequency AC excitation signal for enhanced bandwidth and drift-free measurement stability (sub-nanometer stability over several hours is possible).  PI has been a world market leader in nanopositioning technology for decades. In order to provide nanopositioning systems of the highest accuracy class with better than one nanometer resolution, PI started to develop capacitive position sensing devices 30 years ago. Since then, thousands of single and dual probe sensors and controllers have been manufactured for use in PI's closed-loop piezo positioning stages and in a variety of custom nanometer precision measuring applications. 

PI advantages:

  • Single & dual-plate sensors available for greater flexibility 
  • Measuring bandwidth to 10kHz
  • Sub-nanometer resolution
  • Custom multi-sensor electronics (analog & digital) available
  • Closed loop motion controllers available
  • Custom nanometer precision positioning systems with integrated capacitive sensors available

Capacitive Distance Measuring Principle

Two types of capacitive distance sensors are common: Single electrode sensors and two electrode sensors.

Dual electrode sensors can achieve lower noise levels and higher resolution.  The principle is based on two conductive surfaces and a high-frequency (>100kHz) alternating current generating a homogenous electric field between them. The capacitance is proportional to the active surface divided by the distance. With a given area, the measured distance is proportional to the distance. Single-electrode capacitive sensors work similarly. They are easier to handle and can measure against all kinds of conductive surfaces.  

More information on capacitive measuring technology

D-015, D-050, D-100 Sub-Nanometer-Resolution Dual-Plate Capacitive Position Sensors
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D-015, D-050, D-100 Sub-Nanometer-Resolution Dual-Plate Capacitive Position Sensors
  • Measuring range to 1000 micron
  • <0.01 nanometer resolution
  • Linearity to 0.003 %
  • Bandwidth to 10 kHz
  • Integrated Linearization System (ILS)
  • Custom designs
PISeca™ capacitive displacement sensors perform non-contact measurements of geometric quantities representing separation, position, length or other linear dimension against electrically conductive references such as metallic planes. These single-probe sensors combine superior resolution and linearity with very high bandwidth for dynamic measurements. Standard come with measuring ranges from 20 to 1000 µm. Capacitive position gauges such as PISeca™ are fundamentally very temperature stable and easy to work with.
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D-510 Single-Probe Capacitive Gauge
Provides <1 Nanometer Resolution
  • <1 nanometer resolution, measuring ranges to 500µm
  • Absolute, non-contact measurement of distance / motion / vibration
  • Multi-axis measurements possible
  • Excellent measuring linearity to 0.1%
  • Plug & play: easy setup and integration
  • Very temperature stable
  • Bandwidth to 10kHz
  • Guard-ring electrode design for better sensor linearity
  • ILS linearization system in the signal conditioner electronics improves output signal linearity
  • All systems factory calibrated for highest possible linearity / accuracy
E-509 PISeca™ Signal Conditioner / Piezo Servo Module
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E-509 PISeca™ Signal Conditioner / Piezo Servo Module
  • E-509.E03: 3-channel signal conditioner module
  • E-509.E3: 3-channel sensor module with additional servo controllers for piezo positioning systems
  • Integrated Linearization System (ILS) for maximum linearity
  • Optional: measurement range
  • Variable bandwidth
  • Plug-in modules for E-500 / E-501 chassis
E-852 PISeca™ Signal Conditioner For Capacitive Single-Plate Sensors
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E-852 PISeca™ Signal Conditioner
For Capacitive Single-Plate Sensors
  • Cost-effective system solution for PISeca™ capacitive position sensors
  • Integrated Linearization System (ILS) for maximum linearity
  • Selectable bandwidth from 10Hz up to 10kHz
  • Selectable measurement range
  • LED-bar measuring-range display for easy integration
  • External synchronization for multi-channel applications

More Reading:

Nanopositioning products employing capacitive displacement sensors

More PI Catalogs & Brochures