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attoMotion Piezo-based Nano Drives

attocube’s business unit attoMOTION focuses on the design, engineering and manufacturing of piezo-driven motors and positioning solutions for applications with the highest requirements on precision. Due to their unrivaled accuracy, the compact drive units achieve the most challenging positioning tasks in cutting edge research applications, as well as in industrial fields such as precision machining where they are successfully utilized for the nano precise alignment of optical and mechanical components. Anticipating the needs and requirements of different markets, attocube has established three product lines:

The Premium Line addresses customers working on cutting-edge research experiments conducted under extreme environmental conditions such as cryogenic temperatures and high magnetic fields. The ANP positioner series benefit from a completely non-magnetic design of all components.
The Industrial Line focuses on the needs of today’s nanotechnology industry for robust and cost-effective positioning systems. The standard portfolio of the ECS positioner series comprises bearing-based, compact drives for linear, rotary, and goniometric motion.
The Motion Solution section includes various nano positioning solutions, developed by our highly skilled engineers and tailored precisely to the customer´s needs.
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All attocube stepping positioners and scanners are driven via piezoceramics made from lead zirconite titanate (PZT) for voltages <150V. The PZT for cryogenic scanners and steppers is optimized for maximal performance under these conditions.

attocube’s scanners (ANS) are available for extremely smooth motion as part of the Premium Line. They feature up to three linear axes.

• travel range up to 125 µm
• driven via DC voltage (mainly unipolar)
• continuous motion
• motion almost linear to voltage (limited by piezo 
    hysteresis and piezo creep)
• movement of piezo amplified via solid state flexures


The stepping positioners and scanners of each product line can be combined with one another to fit even the most sophisticated multi-axis applications. See the combining positioners tab for further information.

Stepping positioners
The piezosteppers of attocube can perform linear or goniometric movements as well as 360° rotations.

• travel range up to 50 mm (linear), 10° (goniometric)
    360° endless  (rotational)
• slip stick principle (see next page),driven via sawtooth voltage
• minimum step size: down to 10 nm 
• speed up to several mm/s 
• can be used in fine positioning (=scan) mode by applying a 
    DC voltage to obtain sub-step-size resolution (with selected 
    controllers, i.e. ANC350, ANM300, ECC100/Pro)

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compatibility with different ranges of temperature, pressure & magnetic field

attocube‘s positioners and scanners are available for a whole range of environments, some of which are extreme in terms of temperature (down to mK) or pressure (down to ultra-high vacuum). Depending on the respective model, you will find the following specfications associated with the according product names.

Temperature Range Minimum Pressure
500 mBar 10-8 mBar down to 5x10-11mBar
0 .. 100 °C /RT /HV /UHV
1 K .. 300 K /LT /LT/HV /LT/UHV

 Description of Working Environments for our Positioners and Scanners




All attocube positioners can be used in a temperature range of 0°C to 100°C in a non-condensing environment. For temperatures lower than this range special versions (/LT, /ULT) are available, see below. Due to the intrinsic nature of semiconductors used in our precise optoelectronic encoder the /NUM sensor readout will only work up to an encoder temperature of 55°C


Room Temperature /RT


/RT positioners are manufactured for use at ambient conditions (room temperature, dry atmosphere). If not stated otherwise specifications listed are measured under ambient conditions.

All attocube positioners are tested at ambient conditions before delivery. Depending on the ordered version additional tests at 4 K or inside our vacuum chamber will be performed prior to shipment.


Low Temperature /LT


As a standard, all Premium Line positioners are manufactured from non-magnetic materials such as highly pure titanium (grade 2) and ceramics. /LT means that the materials used are suitable for repeated cooling and operation in cryogenic temperatures of less than 10 mK. Before shipping, they are tested at 4 K under He-exchange gas atmosphere. They can work in a vacuum that is generated due to cryopumping. The vacuum before cooling should not be lower that 1E-4 mbar. Otherwise combined versions (/LT/HV and /LT/UHV) are available.

Ultra Low Temperature /ULT  

Titanium which is used with the Premium Line positioners gets superconducting at about 400mK. For highly sophisticated measurements going beyond this temperature attocube offers the /ULT version of Premium Line positioners. These positioners come with a special resistive sensor and are made from copper beryllium (CuBe) instead of titanium.

Magnetic Field  

All of attocube´s Premium Line positioners are built of completely non-magnetic materials such as titanium and ceramics. They can therefore be used in environments sensitive to magnetic materials, close to electron or other charged particle beams. They are expecially dedicated for the use in high magnetic fields (currently maximum tested field: 31 T). /NUM(+) encoded positioners are specified for a maximum outer magnetic field for 7 T.


High Vacuum /HV


At attocube the high vacuum range is specified down to 1E-8 mBar. The materials used are stainless steel in case of the Industrial Line positioners and titanium for the Premium Line positioners. /HV positioners will be tested at pressures


Ultra High Vacuum /UHV


UHV means that the materials used are compatible with UHV specifications. These stages can be baked out at temperatures up to 150 °C. A test in an UHV environment is performed to guarantee full functionality down to 5E-11 mBar, depending on the type of positioner.

precise closed loop control in any environment

Most of our positioners are available with optional encoders for closed loop control. The encoder allows to read back the actual position, while a feedback loops integrated into the corresponding electronics is used to minimize the difference between target position and actual position.

Setpoints can either be defined in a software interface (ANC350, ECC100) or on the front panel of the closed loop electronics (ANC350). The available encoder types are described below.




/RES: Resistive Encoder

The working principle of this encoder type is based on a potentiometer. It is the method of choice for applications at cryogenic temperatures, ultra high vacuum and highest magnetic fields (current maximum field: 31 T). The /RES encoder measurement refers to the absolute sample position with a position resolution of 200 nm and a repeatability of 1 μm for most linear steppers. For ultra low temperatures (T < 1 K) a special /RES+ sensor is available which is included in all our /ULT models.




/NUM, /NUM+: Optoelectronic Encoder

The usage of a glass grating and the interpretation of the generated Moiré pattern characterizes the working principle of the /NUM encoder. The measurement refers to the relative sample position with a position resolution of 1 nm and a repeatability of 50 nm for most linear stepping positioners. An absolute position information is also available via a reference mark. This encoder is available for room temperature conditions including /HV and /UHV positioners. The +-version /NUM+ features a reduced thermal dissipation of only 50mW making it especially suited for /HV and /UHV positioners. The necessary amplifier has been detached from the sensor itself and placed in the connector of the cable outside of the vacuum chamber. The Premium Line /NUM(+) models can also be used in high magnetic fields up to 7 T.




/FPS: Combination with Interferometer
Outstanding precision is achieved by combining attocube’s innovative, fiber-based interferometers (FPS or IDS) with standard open loop positioning stages. A 25 pm position resolution and 2 nm repeatability even at cryogenic temperatures (/LT, /ULT), UHV conditions and high magnetic fields outrivals the specifications of any other encoder type. To achieve maximal reproducability the position should be measured as close to the point of interest as possible. For detailed information on the interferometers, please refer to the attoSENSORICS section.

Open Loop Positioning

In this mode, the positioner is simply driven forward or backward, without an encoder to read back the actual position or a feedback loop to control the desired target position. Many applications don‘t require either of the latter or provide inherent external means of controlling the position. Still, at least a rough estimate of the actual position can be deduced by counting the number of steps (if the step size can be determined from an external measurement). The step size itself is relatively uniform under fixed conditions (temperature, humidity, pressure, load, etc) and typically within 5% over the full range but depends strongly on the applied force along the axis. The forward/backward asymmetry is also typically 5% (no external force assumed).

Closed Loop Positioning

Positioners with an integrated or external encoder (/RES, /NUM(+), /FPS) can be used for closed loop position control. A feedback loop integrated into the control electronics minimizes the difference between target position and actual position. Setpoints can either be defined in a software interface (ANC350, ECC100) or on the front panel of the closed loop electronics (ANC350). Settling time depends on the resonance frequency of the setup, speed of the feedback loop  and measurement bandwidth.

Suitable Controllers


ANC300 (open loop)
• modular, up to 7 axes
• suited for scanners and positioners
• USB and Ethernet
• controllabe via: LabVIEW | text-based LUA- console | touchscreen


ANC350 (closed loop)
• three axes (/RES, /NUM, /FPS)
• USB and (optionally) Ethernet
• controllabe via:
   Windows Software | touchscreen

ECC100 (open & closed loop)
• three axes
• USB and (optionally) Ethernet
• controllabe via:
   LabVIEW | DLL | Windows software
Customized Nanopositioning Products

15 years have passed since attocube presented its first piezo positioner for cryogenic environments enabling a multitude of novel experiments and widening the possibilities of many researchers. Constant innovation led to integrated position sensors, high reliability, large forces and - with the Industrial Line established five years ago - price effiiciency at vacuum and ambient conditions. 

Customizations play a large role in this process as we’re striving to offer you the best solution for your application. Integrating several positioning axes with individual readout, be it magnetic, optoelectronic or even interferometric sensors, leads to a ready-to-be-integrated motion stage. Multi-axes systems like the hexaCUBE provide a sophisticated programmable software interface. Customized stages provide highest stability for large loads and compact microscopy stages offer multi-dimensional movement with high speeds thanks our ultrasonic drive technology.

Contact us with your application and we will find the solution suiting your needs best, together!

Premium precision 6D parallel kinematics

With fabrication and production processes of today steadily requiring increasing accuracy, there exists a growing demand for compact yet highly accurate multi-degree-of-freedom positioning devices. attocube’s piezoelectric 6D kinematics are precisely engineered for this challenge and provide unrivalled nanometer resolution and repeatability combined with mechanical robustness and compact design. Compared to other products on the market, attocube offers higher repeatability and better travel-range-to-build-volume than any other product. OEM customers can choose from: 
• size customization (footprint, height, travel range)
• load customization (travel range vs load, spring compensation)
• material customization
• extra low height version for constrained environments (down to 57mm)

Typical Applications

• nanopositioning in noise-critical environments as laboratory or quality control
• high-speed positioning for time critical adjustments and probing
Customized Piezo Positioners
taylored to individual needs

For many nano positioning applications, stability is - apart from highest precision - key factor for keeping a target position over long periods even during transport processes. The EOR6060 piezo rotator is designed for maximum rigidity. The EOR piezo rotator is the perfect solution for applications where heavy loads have to be moved. Independently from orientation to gravity, it carries a maximum load of up to 1 kg with almost no tilt of the moving table. Customers can choose between a wide range of parameters:

• number of degrees of freedom
• linear, goniometric, or rotational actuation
• custom-taylored physical dimensions
• individual travel range and speed
• customized payload
• sensorics from µm to sub-nm resolution
• OEM electronics

Typical Applications

• positioning of optics or optical components
• nanomanipulation of objects
• testing in quality control

Flexure Scanners
smooth motion with individual stroke

An increasing range of applications – such as image sensor interpolation or stabilization -  require small to medium range sample positioning at high bandwidth/frequency. Due to our extensive engineering knowledge, we are capable to satisfy many of these requirements based on our piezo flexure technology: We put special focus to miniature designs with superior stiffness, which we develop by rapid prototyping using our finite element method (FEM) and electron-discharge milling (EDM) equipment. Our customers typically choose from:

• one to three degrees of freedom
• linear, goniometric, or rotational actuation
• custom-tailored physical dimensions, stroke, payload
• advanced sensors and electronics
• simulated & verified dynamic performance

Typical Applications

• highly dynamic image interpolation for image sensors (typ. near to mid IR)
• image stabilization, widely applied from VIS to IR spectral range

Microscopy Stages
ultrasonic xy piezo stages

A multitude of applications these days require very fast yet highly accurate sample positioning. This is particularly true for target motion in optical imaging such as super resolution microscopy (STED, PALM) or in cell array investigation. Being a perfect solution for these tasks, attocube´s ultrasonic xy piezo stages offer highest precision motion on the nanometer scale over several centimeter travel range.
Furthermore, these ultrasonic driven piezo stages offer high drive velocity (up to 50 mm/s) combined with an unrivalled bi-directional repeatability of better than 50 nm. Operating at frequencies well above the audible range, the stages move silently and are therefore the perfect choice for noise sensitive applications. attocube offers customized piezoelectric positioning stages with the following parameter ranges:

• footprint 50x50 mm up to 300x300 mm
• travel range 25x25 mm² up to 200x200 mm²
• max. drive velocity 50 mm/s (at 50 nm repeatability)
• up to 5N+ dynamic force
• ambient conditions

Typical Applications

• sample positioning in super resolution optical microscopy
• positioning of optics and optical components
• cell array investigation/manipulation

Ultrasonic Piezo Positioners
high-speed ultrasonic linear stages

With the introduction of the Ultrasonic Drive Technology (UDT) of attocube, we are pushing piezoelectric nanopositioning one step further, adding ultrasonic nano stages to our diverse piezo positioning portfolio. The advanced technology enables inaudible motion combined with high velocity and nanometric accuracy. These features make attocube’s ultrasonic nano drives particularly suitable for noise-sensitive applications in the field of optics, photonics, and microscopy at ambient conditions. OEM customers can choose from:

• footprint 60x50 mm up to 60x120 mm
• travel range 25 mm up to 80 mm
• max. drive velocity 50 mm/s (at 50 nm repeatability)
• typically 1 N dynamic force
• load up to 5 kg

Typical Applications

• nanopositioning in noise-critical environments as laboratory or quality control
• high-speed positioning for time critical adjustments and probing

Positioners ECS