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Photonics Spectra
Jan 2005
PI (Physik Instrumente) LP, Air Bearings and Piezo Precision MotionRequest Info
PI Ceramic Monolithic Actuators The speed and resolution of piezo stages and mounts make them a cornerstone of ultraprecision applications. At their heart is the piezoceramic actuator, a sophisticated sandwich of ferroelectric ceramic layers interleaved with electrodes. Unchanged for decades, they resemble ceramic capacitors and, like capacitors, are reliable. But humidity can damage them. Polymer coatings help, but they aren't vacuum-compatible, and they trap moisture, degrade in the UV and impede stable attachment of feedback elements such as piezoresistive sensors (used in entry-level nanomechanisms).

The response from PI (Physik Instrumente) LP of Auburn, Mass., is PICMA, an all-ceramic monolithic actuator. Its novel cofired ceramic encapsulation resists humidity on a scale that is orders of magnitude better. Inherently vacuum-compatible, its flat, hard surface is suitable for sensors. The company's blank-sheet approach optimizes stiffness, capacitance, thermal dynamics, electrode configuration and other parameters. The increased Curie temperature of 320 °C facilitates operation in hotter environments with higher dynamics.

PICMA is available to OEMs and is the foundation for PI's fast nanopositioners and optic mounts, benefiting applications involving semiconductors, data storage, photonics, microscopy, life sciences and defense.


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