A flexure guided nanopositioning stage can provide motion in up to 6 degrees of freedom with sub-nanometer precision. Driven by piezo ceramic actuators (blocks of thin ceramic layers on the order of a few micrometers interspersed with electrodes and sintered into a singular structure), the actuation of these flexure stages is extremely sensitive and quick, as piezo material can expand with the speed of sound. This allows response times in the sub-millisecond range and facilitates high dynamic control for fast scanning of XY axes over travel ranges up to several 100µm for direct and precise sample positioning across a broad scanning plane.
Multi-axis motion platforms for AFM sample positioning utilize flexure guides for their outstanding accuracy, longevity, and compatibility with vacuum environments (no lubricants, no wear). Often, capacitive sensors are used in conjunction with flexures to increase path fidelity and guarantee the reliability of positioning over billions of use cycles. Motion platforms subsequently provide the framework for effective, future-proof testing of myriad sample types (ceramics, metals, organics, etc.) via AFM to develop a deeper understanding of the atomic-scale structures and interactions of different materials.