Piezo Focus Drives & Voice Coil Motors for Fast Nano-Focus Control

Three technologies are available to provide fast focus control for high resolution microscopes, laser machining  or surface metrology. Piezo flexure stages are commonly used when the highest resolution and dynamic performance is required, and space is limited, typically with motion ranges <1mm. Voice coil motors provide a good compromise of longer travel ranges fast settling while maintaining nanometer resolution. Piezo motors can also provide millimeters of travel with high stiffness and the advantage of holding a position stable without power. All three nano-positioning technologies have specific advantages and limitations and are widely used in microscope objectives focus control (auto focus) etc. They have in common excellent resolution and speed, typically one order of magnitude higher than conventional stepper motor driven stages. Their motion controllers are compatible with major image acquisition software packages to provide high performance images for deconvolution microscopy, Z-stack image acquisition, and other super-resolution techniques. Settling times are typically in the low millisecond range. High guiding precision is achieved with frictionless, computer optimized flexures. Optical and capacitive feedback sensors guarantee nanometer and sub-nanometer precision in closed-loop operation.

Piezo and Voice Coil Scanners for Microscope Objective Nanopositioning

Nanofocus Z-Scanners

V-308 Fast Nano Focus Voice Coil Scanner, 7mm
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V-308 Fast Nano Focus

Voice Coil Scanner, 7mm

  • 7mm motion
  • Voice coil linear motor
  • Adjustable Z-counterbalance
  • Millisecond settling time
  • 1nm sensor resolution
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N-725 PIFOC® Fast Piezo Nano Focus

2mm, PiezoWalk® Motor

  • 2000µm motion
  • PiezoWalk® motor, self-locking
  • Package with controller
  • Millisecond settling time
  • 0.5nm sensor resolution
P-725 High Performance Piezo Focus Scanner
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P-725 High Performance Piezo Focus Scanner

Up to 800µm, Sub-Nanometer Precision

  • 100, 400, 800µm motion
  • Combines higher dynamics & longer travel
  • Millisecond responsiveness
  • Ideal for autofocus, metrology, pathology
  • New high performance controller
P-725 PIFOC® Fast Piezo Nano Focus
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P-725 PIFOC® Fast Piezo Nano Focus

400µm, Sub-Nanometer Precision

  • 400µm motion
  • Affordable package with controller
  • Millisecond settling time
  • Enhanced focus stability
  • Compatible with imaging software
P-721 PIFOC® Fast Piezo Nano Focus
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P-721 PIFOC® Fast Piezo Nano Focus

100µm, Sub-Nanometer Precision

  • 100µm motion
  • Most affordable package
  • Cost efficient strain gauge sensors
  • Millisecond settling time
  • Compatible with imaging software
P-726 PIFOC® Fast Piezo Nano Focus
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P-726 PIFOC® Fast Piezo Nano Focus

100µm, High-Stiffness, High End

  • 100µm motion
  • Ultra-stiff for heavy objectives
  • Millisecond settling time
  • Enhanced focus stability
  • Compatible with imaging software

Application Note

The P-726 provides the highest stiffness and fastest response time with heavy objectives.

An application of the P-726 with the E-753 digital controller is described in this article “Remote refocus enables class-leading spatiotemporal resolution in 4D optical microscopy”, where also the U-780 XY microscope stage and the P-737 Piezo-Z stage were employed in the test setup.

How Piezo Actuators and Flexures Work

With the use of flexures mechanisms, the motion of a piezo stack can be multiplied many times to achieve up to one millimeter travel (or more in extreme cases).  Flexures can be designed to also double as guiding and preloading mechanisms. Flexure motion is based on the elastic deformation (flexing) of a solid material. Friction and stiction are entirely eliminated, and flexures exhibit high stiffness, load capacity, and resistance to shock and vibration. Flexures are maintenance free and not subject to wear. They are vacuum compatible, operate over a wide temperature range, and require neither lubricants nor compressed air for operation.