Novel approach illuminates nm-scale stabilities over many minutes

Researchers at the Block Lab at Stanford University devised a novel test which quantifies the stability benefits of long-travel sample positioning stages based on piezomotors as opposed to classical, screw-driven mechanisms. It has long been suspected that lubricant flow at the screw/nut interface would contribute to long-term settling and creep behavior and that a well-designed linear piezomotor would avoid this, but the necessary instrumentation to confirm this at the nanoscale over many minutes' time has not existed, as conventional interferometry and similar techniques are themselves insufficiently stable over the timeframes required.

Publication of the article followed the 5th Biennial Winter Workshop on Single Molecule Biophysics at the Aspen Center for Physics in 2009 and includes both an overview of nanopositioning terminology and specifications and a remarkable graph which visualizes the stability of a piezomotor and a good-quality screw-driven sample stage.

Piezo-based vibration isolation advances nanolithography

STACIS actuators supporting a photolithography scanner’s isolation platform
So many of today's essential technological wonders would be impossible without the semiconductor industry's relentless and decades-long advancements in production techniques and capabilities. Today's powerful microprocessors and digital signal processors gain their capabilities and affordability from manufacturers' ability to repetitively and consistently replicate nanoscale structures with high yield using optical lithography. In addition to controlling the alignment and position of silicon wafers throughout their processing cycle, the machinery must be isolated from ambient vibrations from machinery, roadways, natural seismicity and even people walking around.

TMC has led the industry in leveraging the ability of piezoelectric actuators to achieve nanoscale stabilities which enable the next generations of nano-lithography. In an article in Semiconductor International, this capability is described, along with critical reliability advancements which ensure that semiconductor fabs can consistently and economically crank out the products our modern lives depend on.

Announcement: PI-USA is ITAR-compliant

Many nanopositioning applications involve export-control considerations. PI-USA is pleased to note that we have instituted organizational structures and procedures to comply with ITAR requirements that often apply in these situations. Just advise your PI sales or applications engineer if your application involves export-controlled information, and visit

A close-up look at Single-Molecule Biophysics

XVIVO has composed a remarkable animated look at today's understanding of the molecular activities that go on in the living cell. This understanding is based on the quickly-evolving field of Single-Molecule Biophysics, which utilizes innovative tools such as optical tweezers and nanopores to illuminate the most fundamental processes of life: the dynamical mechanics of biochemistry. For us, this is a field which thrives at the furthest frontiers of nanoscale positioning control. It drives many advancements in resolution and functionality, and it depends on long-term nanoscale stabilities of every component in the system.

New Products: Family of USB nanopositioners with integrated, 24-bit DACs

Digital and Analog Controller Overview
Our exciting, expanding line of digital and analog nanopositioning controllers is growing every month. As ever, our aim is to provide the broadest selection for the most optimal match between product and application.  We hope you'll review our latest news on the controller front and contact your local PI applications professional to discuss your needs.
Multi-Channel Digital Piezo Motion Controllers with Dynamic Linearization
E-709 Digital Piezo Motion  Controller for Nanopositioning

A fascinating video on Super-Resolution Microscopy

One of the most astonishing and useful developments in the worlds of biology and biophysics in recent years has been the rapid advent of techniques such as Photoactivated Localization Microscopy (PALM) and Fluorescence Resonance Energy Transfer (FRET), which allow researchers to construct images with molecular-scale resolution, far finer than Abbe's classical diffraction limit allows. The field--collectively termed Super-Resolution Microscopy--is illuminating biological structures that are the fundamental scaffolding of life, the framework of disease, and the stepping-stones to cures.

The prestigious journal Nature has produced an instructive online video which provides a concise overview of this field:

More articles on nanopositioning applications in microscopy and imaging