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.

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