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Piezoelectric Inertia Actuators
13 mm Travel Range
50 mm Travel Range
Two PIAK10 Inertia Actuators Being Used
25 mm Travel Range
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The control cable can be adjusted up to 110° for space-constrained applications.
Thorlabs' Piezoelectric Inertia Actuators provide high-resolution linear motion control with long piezo-controlled translation ranges in a compact package. Each actuator can support loads up to 2.5 kg and preloads up to 30 N with typical movements of 20 nm and no backlash. The step size can be adjusted up to 30% to a maximum of approximately 30 nm using the KIM001 or KIM101 Controllers. However, due to the open-loop design, hysteresis, and application conditions, the achieved step size of the system can vary over 20%. An external feedback system will need to be used to overcome this variance. We also offer vacuum-compatible piezo inertia actuators.
The actuator is self-locking when at rest and when there is no power supplied to the piezo, making these actuators ideal for set-and-hold applications that require nanometer resolution and long-term alignment stability. Manual adjustments can be made at any time, as long as the piezo is not actively translating the screw, by using the rear-located thumbscrew or with a 5/64" (2 mm) hex key.
Powered by a 10 mm long discrete piezo stack, these actuators operate at speeds of up to 3.5 mm/min. The design of the piezo motor, detailed below, will rotate the tip of the lead screw during translation. As shown in the image above, the control cable for each actuator can be rotated up to 110° for space-constrained applications.
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Simplified Illustration Showing the Operation of an Inertia Piezo Actuator
Piezoelectric Inertia "Slip-Stick" Motor
A piezo stack mounted perpendicular to the lead screw axis actuates the screw via a design based on the system's inertia and coefficients of friction. Two decoupled arms, or jaws, are located on either side of the piezo. These arms then extend around the top and bottom of the main lead screw. This is illustrated in the diagram to the left.
The piezo reacts to a custom sawtooth voltage waveform, causing it to expand or contract. The waveform is asymmetric, slowly ramping up to the specified voltage and then quickly dropping the voltage to zero on a nanosecond timescale. As shown in the bottom illustration to the left, the jaws will "stick" to the lead screw during the slow voltage ramp, similar to how a person would turn a screw with their thumb and forefinger. The nanosecond voltage drop will cause the arms to "slip" due to the screws' inertia and the different coefficients of friction, and return the arms to their original position. The "slip-stick" nature of this device uses very short pulse widths and continuous stepping of the actuator will result in an audible noise at a typical level of 60 to 70 dB. This mechanism allows a single piezo element to translate a lead screw along its entire length.
Due to a number of factors that include the application condition, piezo hysteresis, component variance, and the axial load, the achieved step size will vary and is not repeatable. To help overcome this variance, an external feedback system will need to be used. Alternatively, a stepper motor actuator can also be substituted depending on the application.
Note: The KIM001 uses Kinesis software. The KIM101 is compatible with both Kinesis and our legacy APT software.
Thorlabs offers two platforms to drive our wide range of motion controllers: our Kinesis® software package or the legacy APT™ (Advanced Positioning Technology) software package. Either package can be used to control devices in the Kinesis family, which covers a wide range of motion controllers ranging from small, low-powered, single-channel drivers (such as the K-Cubes™ and T-Cubes™) to high-power, multi-channel, modular 19" rack nanopositioning systems (the APT Rack System).
The Kinesis Software features .NET controls which can be used by 3rd party developers working in the latest C#, Visual Basic, LabVIEW™, or any .NET compatible languages to create custom applications. Low-level DLL libraries are included for applications not expected to use the .NET framework. A Central Sequence Manager supports integration and synchronization of all Thorlabs motion control hardware.
Kinesis GUI Screen
APT GUI Screen
Our legacy APT System Software platform offers ActiveX-based controls which can be used by 3rd party developers working on C#, Visual Basic, LabVIEW™, or any Active-X compatible languages to create custom applications and includes a simulator mode to assist in developing custom applications without requiring hardware.
By providing these common software platforms, Thorlabs has ensured that users can easily mix and match any of the Kinesis and APT controllers in a single application, while only having to learn a single set of software tools. In this way, it is perfectly feasible to combine any of the controllers from single-axis to multi-axis systems and control all from a single, PC-based unified software interface.
The software packages allow two methods of usage: graphical user interface (GUI) utilities for direct interaction with and control of the controllers 'out of the box', and a set of programming interfaces that allow custom-integrated positioning and alignment solutions to be easily programmed in the development language of choice.
A range of video tutorials is available to help explain our APT system software. These tutorials provide an overview of the software and the APT Config utility. Additionally, a tutorial video is available to explain how to select simulator mode within the software, which allows the user to experiment with the software without a controller connected. Please select the APT Tutorials tab above to view these videos.
Thorlabs' Kinesis® software features new .NET controls which can be used by third-party developers working in the latest C#, Visual Basic, LabVIEW™, or any .NET compatible languages to create custom applications.
For a collection of example projects that can be compiled and run to demonstrate the different ways in which developers can build on the Kinesis motion control libraries, click on the links below. Please note that a separate integrated development environment (IDE) (e.g., Microsoft Visual Studio) will be required to execute the Quick Start examples. The C# example projects can be executed using the included .NET controls in the Kinesis software package (see the Kinesis Software tab for details).
These videos illustrate some of the basics of using the APT System Software from both a non-programming and a programming point of view. There are videos that illustrate usage of the supplied APT utilities that allow immediate control of the APT controllers out of the box. There are also a number of videos that explain the basics of programming custom software applications using Visual Basic, LabView and Visual C++. Watch the videos now to see what we mean.
To further assist programmers, a guide to programming the APT software in LabView is also available.
Our compact PIA Series Piezoelectric Inertia Actuators are ideal for any set-and-forget application, particularly where space is limited. Their primary function is to set a relative position and hold, whereby switching the controller off will result in the same drift as a 1/4"-80 fine drive screw. These actuators are designed for use with our range of small positioning stages and optical mounts, and can provide nanometer resolution with long-term alignment stability. Manual adjustment is also available using the rear-located thumbscrew or a 5/64" (2 mm) hex key.
These compact K-Cube Controllers provide easy manual and PC control of our piezo inertia stages, actuators, and optic mounts. They feature adjustable voltage output from 85 V to 125 V. The top panel display screen enables operation as soon as the unit is turned on, without the need for connection to a PC. Alternatively, both controllers have USB connectivity that provides 'Plug-and-Play' PC-controlled operation with our Kinesis® software package (included). The KIM101 controller can also be operated with our legacy APT™ (Advanced Positioning Technology) software package.
These units have small footprints and may be mounted directly to the optical table using the 1/4" (M6) counterbored slots in the base plate. Their compact size allows these controllers to be positioned close to the motorized system for added convenience when manually adjusting motor positions using the top panel controls. Tabletop operation also allows minimal drive cable lengths for easier cable management.
Please note that these controllers do not ship with a power supply. The compatible KPS101 power supply is sold below.
KIM001 Single-Channel Controller
KIM101 Four-Channel Controller
For more information, please see the full web presentation.
Power Supply Options
The KPS101 power supply outputs +15 VDC at up to 2.4 A and can power a single K-Cube or T-Cube with a 3.5 mm jack. It plugs into a standard wall outlet.