Smaller squiggles

New Scale Technologies has created a tiny piezoelectric motor that operates continuously from room temperature to cryogenic temperatures (77 Kelvins and below).

New Scale Technologies has created a custom cryogenic version of its tiny SQL Series piezoelectric Squiggle motor. The custom SQL-3.4-cryo operates continuously from room temperature to cryogenic temperatures (77 Kelvins and below).

At only 3.4 x 3.4 x 10 mm, the custom SQL-3.4-cryo is one fourth the size of the company’s SQ-100-C cryogenic Squiggle motor, commonly used in laboratory applications.

The smaller SQL-3.4-cryo motor was created for applications such as portable sensors, where system miniaturisation is desired. It is currently used to align cooled optics at 100 Kelvins in a cryogenic sensor developed for a military customer.

Cooled optics greatly improve image quality for cryogenic sensor applications such as hyperspectral imaging. Until now, the alignment of cooled optics has been an hours-long process requiring the operator to align the optics at room temperature, cool the sensor, test the alignment, note corrections, bring the sensor to room temperature, make adjustments, and repeat. The Squiggle motor completely eliminates this time-consuming process by allowing precise, active alignment of the optics at any temperature.

“The Squiggle motor is a unique solution for cryogenic nanopositioning,” said David Henderson, co-CEO and chief technology officer at New Scale. “Conventional electromagnetic motors do not work at all at cryogenic temperatures. Other piezoelectric motors lack the Squiggle motor’s high push force and sub-micron position resolution.”

The SQL-3.4-cryo motor provides up to 30 mm of travel and holds its position with the power off. Its tiny size and low power draw minimize heat load in the cryostat.

New Scale offers a credit-card sized driver card for the SQL motor and provides engineering assistance to OEMs wishing to design their own drive circuits.