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Zero-Wear Flexure Actuators
Jan 2008
PI (Physik Instrumente) L.P., Air Bearings and Piezo Precision MotionRequest Info
For Biomedical Applications and Optics Instrumentation
AUBURN, Mass., Jan. 14, 2008 -- Flexure-based piezo actuators such as the P-601 series provide up to 10 times larger travel ranges than classic piezo stack actuators in a low-profile package and with virtually unlimited resolution and lifetime, according to the manufacturer, PI (Physik Instrumente).

The stiff construction allows for fast response with rise times much shorter than one millisecond. The design involves no friction, no lubricants and no wear. Because of the many advantages over motor/leadscrew-driven positioners, more and more flexure actuators are used in fast-focusing mechanisms and for other precision positioning tasks, ranging from data storage to pharmaceutical and biotech applications, PI said.

PIFlexureActuators.jpgTypical applications for zero-wear flexure-based piezo actuators include medical instrumentation, nanotechnology, cleanroom manufacturing, autofocus, high throughput screening, high-speed valve control, nanoliter pumps and laser and spectrometer tuning. In life science applications, piezo actuators can be used for microdispensing and valve control applications, or for scanning and fast optical adjustments in drug screening apparatus, the company said.

Features & Advantages:
  • Flexure Guidance for Frictionless, Ultrastraight Motion
  • Low Cost, OEM Piezo Driver Modules Also Available
  • Low Profile, High Stiffness, Travel Ranges to >1000 µm Feasible
  • Closed-Loop Control, Resolution Better Than 1 nm
  • PICMA Long-Life Ceramic Encapsulated Piezo Actuators
  • Optional Vacuum and Nonmagnetic Versions
  • Fast Response, < 1 ms Feasible
The lifetime of the actuators depends mainly on the integrated piezo-ceramic "motion engine." Here, the latest ceramic encapsulated low-voltage multilayer piezo stacks provide protection from humidity and moisture, and deliver up to 10 times longer service life than the still widely used epoxy-coated multilayer piezo stacks, PI said. A preload protects the ceramics from tension forces during dynamic positioning.

The latest flexure actuators already incorporate a precision frictionless guiding mechanism and require no lubricants. When integrating the actuators into a positioning system, no extra linear bearings or roller bearings are needed, saving further cost and space. If ceramic encapsulated piezo ceramics are used (no outgassing / high bakeout temperatures) they are ideal for ultrahigh vacuum applications; nonmagnetic designs are also available, according to the company.

For more information, visit:; e-mail:

PI (Physik Instrumente) LP
16 Albert St.
Auburn, MA 01501
Phone: (508) 832-3456
Fax: (508) 832-0506


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The use of atoms, molecules and molecular-scale structures to enhance existing technology and develop new materials and devices. The goal of this technology is to manipulate atomic and molecular particles to create devices that are thousands of times smaller and faster than those of the current microtechnologies.
The technology of generating and harnessing light and other forms of radiant energy whose quantum unit is the photon. The science includes light emission, transmission, deflection, amplification and detection by optical components and instruments, lasers and other light sources, fiber optics, electro-optical instrumentation, related hardware and electronics, and sophisticated systems. The range of applications of photonics extends from energy generation to detection to communications and...
A kind of spectrograph in which some form of detector, other than a photographic film, is used to measure the distribution of radiation in a particular wavelength region.  
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