Precision positioning stages are often central to science and technology at the micrometer and nanometer length scales in diverse fields such as microscopy, robotics, automation and metrology. These stages are used to hold in place, or move in a specified manner, a piece of equipment or a sample. Therefore, compact multi-degree-of-freedom stages with large dynamic range are especially desirable. However, most positioning technologies demand large compromises to be made on one or more of these fronts.
In a recent study published in Nature Communications, KS Vikrant and GR Jayanth from the Department of Instrumentation and Applied Physics report a new type of compact, diamagnetically-levitated positioning stages that achieve large-range, six degrees-of-freedom (DOF) positioning with nanometre-scale precision. Compared to other diamagnetically-levitated stages reported in literature, the proposed stages in this paper achieve between one to two orders of magnitude improvement in a variety of parameters including payload carrying capability, positioning stability, and precision.
These stages offer a combination of range, resolution, and low volume that other state-of-the-art positioning technologies cannot individually achieve. This opens up new possibilities for applications in micro and nanorobotics, scanning probe microscopy and optical alignment.