Novel Piezo Linear Actuator/Manipulator Replaces Motorized Actuators


Auburn, MA, Jan 2009 -- Piezo systems specialist PI will introduce the novel N-380 / N-381 NEXACT® ceramic linear motor actuators at this year’s Photonics West conference in San Jose, CA. The new actuator is based on the Piezo Walk principle and replaces classical lead screw actuators combining high forces and long travel ranges with sub-nanometer resolution in a small package.

Features and Advantages

  • 1 kg Push/Pull Force, 30 mm Travel, 10 mm/sec Speed
  • Self-Locking, Stiff Design; convenient ½” front mount or clamp mount.
  • Stepping Mode + Sweep Mode, Millisecond Response & High Bandwidth
  • Non-Magnetic and Vacuum-Compatible Options

Typical Applications
Micromanipulation & Nanomanipulation, Nanotechnology, Microscopy & Optics, Nano-Imprint, Laser Tuning, Semiconductor Test & Production Equipment, Bio-Technology, Medical Technology.

Piezo-Class Resolution, Low Power Consumption, Long Travel Range

NEXACT® actuators provide piezo-class resolution (far below one nanometer) and millisecond responsiveness. In contrast to conventional piezo actuators, the new stepping technology allows virtually unlimited travel ranges while retaining the high stiffness, in a very small package. The special drive design reduces the operating voltage to 40 V or less, with minimal power consumption.

Very High Stability, Self-Locking, No Wear & Maintenance, No Lubricants

In contrast to DC servo or stepper motor actuators, the piezo walk drive effects linear motion directly, without the need to transform rotation with gears and leadscrews. Backlash and wear are eliminated and the drive is maintenance-free. NEXACT® actuators exhibit high stiffness and are self-locking when powered down with nanometer position stability, and zero heat dissipation or servo-dither at rest.

Working Principle: Piezoceramic Bending Elements Drive a Ceramic Runner

In operation, piezoceramic bending elements act on the ceramic runner, connected to the moving tip of the actuator. For long distance motion, the stepping mode is used. For smaller distances & for ultra-high dynamic motion, the analog (sweep) mode can be employed.

Control Electronics / Software

The actuator can be controlled through USB, RS-232 as well as with a joystick. The controller comes with a variety of software drivers and programming examples.

Proven, Award Winning Technology

N-380 series piezo walk actuators are closely related to PI’s award winning, NEXLINE® linear actuator family, the NEXACT® actuators’ big brothers.


• Travel range - 30 mm • Step size (in step mode) - To 5 µm • Travel range in analog mode - 7 µm • Open-loop resolution - 0.03 nm** • Step frequency - 1.5 kHz • Max. velocity - 10 mm/s* • Stiffness in motion direction - 2.4 N/µm • Max. push / pull force (active) - 10 N • Operating voltage - -10 V to +45 V • Operating temperature range - 0 to 50 °C • Mass - 250 g • Cable length - 1.5 m
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