Nanopositioning Systems and Capacitive Sensors with Extreme Reliability for Beamline Applications

Posted in Beamline applicationsNanopositioningQueensgate Nov 2nd 2020

Beamline solutions

Queensgate offers nanopositioning solutions with high precision, accuracy, resolution, and speed that operate for decades in beamline applications.  

Since its inception in 1978, Queensgate – a brand of Prior Scientific Instruments – pioneered high-precision, high-speed nanopositioning solutions. Our systems are used in many applications requiring high performance and reliability, including in robotic systems on the International Space Station, hard disc testing, and synchrotron solutions.

Synchrotron Light

Synchrotrons harness the power of electrons producing intense beams of X-rays, ultra-violet and infrared light. The beams are used in super microscopes to study anything from fossils to jet engines to viruses and vaccines.

A synchrotron light source typically begins with an electron gun that propels electrons down a linear accelerator (linac). Entering a circular booster ring, they accelerate to speeds close to the speed of light and enter a storage ring, where they circulate for hours. Bending magnets help keep the electrons to their circular path and insertion devices keep them bunched together and focused.


Each range of synchrotron light is suited to a particular application. Synchrotron light is produced as the electrons change direction; the radiation branching off the storage ring, to enter laboratories, or beamlines.

Synchrotron engineers and beamline manufacturers need components capable of operating in ultra-high vacuum (UHV) and may need parts that are radiation hard, non-magnetic, and can perform at cryogenic temperatures. After installation, system reliability is essential as the beamline is only accessible for short shutdown periods throughout the year.

Queensgate Solutions

Queensgate has decades of experience providing nanopositioning solutions for beamline science. Piezo-driven nanopositioning systems and capacitive sensors are available for vacuum use from 10-2 to 10-9 Torr, including radiation-hard, non-magnetic and cryogenic options. Many installations require customized nanopositioning solutions, as many synchrotron radiation experiments require a custom set-up. Whether standard or custom, our systems deliver decades of performance with minimal downtime.

This desire to ensure their products meet the challenge has led to high praise from Principal Beamline Scientists,  “it is stable, doesn’t vibrate or shake and is happy working in a high radiation environment.”

it is stable, doesn’t vibrate or shake and is happy working in a high radiation environment.”

The NX NanoSensor®

The Queensgate NX NanoSensor® provides metrological information and measures the relative pitch vibrations within a monochromator. The NX NanoSensor® is a non-contact position measuring system based on the principle of capacitance micrometry. Two sensor plates, a target, and a probe form a parallel plate capacitor. The spacing of these two plates can be measured to better than 7 picometers, with a range up to 1.25 mm, frequency response up to 10 kHz, and linearity down to 0.02%.

Piezo Stages and Actuators

Closed-loop, flexure guided nanopositioning stages are used to position optics, bend crystals, and provide active damping. These stages have sub-nanometer precision, picometre resolutions, and fast settling times. New plug and play electronics allow controllers to be interchanged with no impact on system performance.

Queensgate offers the only closed-loop actuators using capacitive sensors. The DPT-E series can move loads up to 60 kg, ranging from 20 µm to 110 µm. Low electronic noise, high linearity, and fast settling times ensure high precision, speed, and accuracy.

The high precision, accuracy, resolution, and speed delivered by Queensgate nanopositioning systems contribute to the high-quality data produced. These experiments can positively impact society as they contribute to the development of new medicines, the creation of new generations of semiconductors, and improving energy management.

Find out more about our solutions for beamline instrumentation and download our brochure.