What is a Piezo Flexure Stage? – Definition, Properties and Applications

Table of Contents

Basic Components of a Flexure Stage
Applications of Nanopositioners
nPoint | nanopositioning and motion control


A piezo stage can be defined as a mechanical device driven be a piezoelectric actuator, which provides one or more axis of motion. In the case of nanopositioning, a piezo stage makes use of flexure hinges where a moving platform is linked to a static base.

A stage can offer high linearity and speed with nanometer accuracy and resolution. Other terms for a piezo stage are a nanopositioner, nanopositioning stage, piezo flexure stage, piezoelectric stage, or a nanopositioning device.

Figure 1 shows the basic pieces of a flexure stage.

Figure 1. Basic pieces of a flexure stage

Basic Components of a Flexure Stage

A piezo stage is one portion of a closed-loop nanopositioning system including the following three items:

  • Nanopositioner – a flexure-guided piezo stage with a feedback sensor as seen in Figure 2.

Figure 2. Nanopositioner

  • Nanopositioning Electronics – a controller that offers closed-loop operation while providing positioning signals to the stage as seen in Figure 3.

Figure 3. Nanopositioning Electronics

Figure 4. Nanopositioning software

Software programming can be done to produce motion patterns appropriate to the desired application. In order to communicate with the controller, a number of different options are available. These can range from analog signals (-10V to 10V, 0 to 10V) to high speed digital interfaces. While offering the appropriate voltages to drive the piezo, the controller ensures the stage is in the desired position.

A piezo stage can accurately move an object with relative position to the fixed portion of the stage as part of a closed-loop system. In order to make sure that the stage is moving at the right accuracy and speed, a sensor and controller work with the stage to eliminate nonlinearity, creep, and hysteresis issues inherent with the piezo itself.

Piezo stages come in a number of dimensions and can offer travel ranges of up to 2mm, making them suitable for precision applications where longer travel ranges are not important. A piezo crystal can move ~0.1% of its length when current is added. By offering a certain voltage to a piezo actuator, the stage can be moved to a desired position.

The piezo is designed so that it works within the flexure system and can be amplified to improve the distance that can be translated by a stage. This enables smaller devices with greater travel than what a standard piezo actuator can provide.

Applications of Nanopositioners

Nanopositioners come in a range of sizes and shapes and are used in a variety of applications. Each stage is designed with a specific application in mind but is often suitable for a variety of uses.

Applications of nanpositioners are:

  • Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM)
  • Autofocus Systems
  • Automated Optical Inspection Systems
  • Beam Steering/Scanning
  • Cell tracking
  • Precision Sample Positioning
  • Single Particle Tracking
  • Super Resolution Microscopy
  • Z-stacking
  • Dithering for image processing
  • Interferometry
  • Microscopy
  • Nanoalignment
  • Nanoindentation
  • Nanolithography
  • Nanometrology
  • Optical Trapping

nPoint | nanopositioning and motion control

nPoint, Inc. specializes in piezo actuator driven flexure stages available in one, two or three axes of motion. Our ultra-precision motion control scanners and controllers provide users with the highest level of performance available in the marketplace.

With design and production facilities located in Middleton, WI and distribution channels throughout the world, nPoint provides each of our customers the same outstanding service regardless of the application.

Our product lines include standard products consisting of upgrade kits for your AFM and stand alone research instruments, a growing list of OEM applications and custom design for your unique research application. Let nPoint be your complete nanopositioning solution provider.

This information has been sourced, reviewed and adapted from materials provided by nPoint.

For more information on this source, please visit nPoint.

Ask A Question

Do you have a question you'd like to ask regarding this article?

Leave your feedback