The incredible world of nano positioning

Queensgate Instruments specialize in creating nano positioning and sensing solutions for high-technology industries, with variants suitable for precision measurement in UHV, radiation environments and cryogenic temperatures.

Positioning control

With data and processing demands increasing year on year, there is a constant drive to make technology ever smaller. This presents new challenges for manufacture and inspection requiring nanometre-level accuracies.

In most fields of engineering, working to micrometre accuracy is considered to be the standard, with typical high-quality bearings having a tolerance to within hundreds or even tens of microns. As pioneers in nanopositioning, Queensgate engineers and scientists are now working at hundreds or even tens of picometres, an incredible million times smaller. For comparison, an atom is around one to five-hundred picometres in diameter and a human hair is 100,000,000 picometres across.

Queensgate Instruments has delivered world-leading, nano-positioning systems for more than three decades. Our nano mechanisms are piezo-driven with integrated capacitive sensors used to provide positional accuracy.

A nano-positioning stage is flexure- guided to provide good directional stability and mechanical resistance to roll, pitch and yaw. When ranges in the hundreds of microns are required, mechanical amplification of the motion is usually applied. Flexures minimize frictions which allows sub-nanometre resolution control. The use of flexures prevents mechanical stick slip, therefore they are used instead of slide ways and bearings.

Positioning solutions

In the nano-scale, environmental changes can have significant effects on the nano-positioner performance. Choice of material is therefore important. The use of low-thermal- expansion Super Invar in the stage construction helps to improve positional stability over standard aluminium or stainless steel.

The range of applications for nano- positioning technology is increasing rapidly. Applications that require measurement and control at sub- nanometre levels include microscopy, laser-beam steering, semiconductor manufacture, precision machining, hard-drive testing, physics experiments, specimen manipulation etc.

The demand for smaller and smaller measurement and control is growing rapidly.

Queensgate specialize in offering product solutions to meet individual customer requirements.

Our engineers, scientists and manufacturing experts provide the best solution for challenging problems. We can advise on the best use of standard products and are specialists in delivering custom systems. Products are engineered to last, with many systems in continuous operation in excess of 20 years. Queensgate offer a number of products, including flexure- guided stages, closed-loop actuators, nano-position sensors as well as high-quality control electronics.