Nanopositioning and Image Stabilization

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Nanotechnology has been discussed as one possible solution to image positioning problems that exist today. Recently a new nanopositioning device was introduced that’s far more affordable than previous models, and may provide an attractive alternative to engineers. This kind of technology has a number of OEM/research-related applications that are otherwise cost prohibitive today.

The new device, introduced by Physik Instrumente (PI) as the P-763 XY nanopositioner, is a flexure-guided stage that’s roughly a three-inch square (see below). In the center of the square lies a 30×30 mm aperture area where the real work is actually done. Demanding applications like image stabilization can make use of this aperture, which is especially promising considering the bulky mechanical devices currently in use.

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Image Source: Physik Instrumente

PI is suggesting that it would work well in producing lithographs on a microscopic level and aligning equipment on a nanotechnological scale. The types of devices installed on existing machinery currently hinder these types of applications. By making a modular nano-positioning device, it should be relatively easy to actually use PI’s device as a drop-in solution.

Extremely high-resolution microscopes haven’t really been feasible thus far because of similar types of limitations. It’s difficult to produce a camera that positions well enough to actually scan an object that’s extremely small. However, this kind of device is designed in a manner that allows users to actually position something on such a slight scale that this becomes truly possible.

Because PI uses standard interfaces, the positioning system can actually be controlled through regular jacks as well. Those who are interested in installing one could very well set it up for USB, RS-232 or Ethernet connectivity. This is particularly promising since one of the promoted uses of the technology is in digital communication. Using some sort of innovative interface might have allowed for faster data transfer speeds, but it would have done little to encourage engineers to use it. No one really wants to be the first to invest in some type of strange novel technology, and it can be extremely expensive to do so as well.

Perhaps more interesting (to me at least) is the fact that this kind of equipment has been tested on Mars. Space probes have long been considered the ideal test bed for this kind of equipment. Having been used in that kind of environment, it becomes clear that numerous other uses have opened up as well. In fact, this type of aperture could very well have applications in mapping technology.

Satellite mapping techniques have remained somewhat stagnant for decades, but this might allow higher-resolution images to be taken of sites on Earth. These photographs could be used for collecting information for mapping or even providing more accurate weather forecasts as well. Considering the current reliance on weather balloons, this type of technology could help to decrease the cost of existing weather prediction technology in the near-term future.

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