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Motion X and PI have developed a novel, laser-based system that combines Motion X’s high-bandwidth autofocus sensor with PI’s high-speed piezo-driven Pifoc objective and Z positioners.

The modular and configurable architecture avoids image degradation and is suitable for commercial and custom microscopes, and for substrates ranging from wafers with sensitive coatings to live biological samples.

Optical autofocus techniques have the advantage of evaluating the image via the optics.

All mechanical, thermal and optical issues that can impact focus, including changes and steps in the sample itself, are compensated.

The teamwork between PI and Motion X joined Motion X’s Focustrac system to PI’s controls and piezo mechanics for plug-and-play autofocus capability.

PI’s Pifoc piezo objective and Z positioners are typically 10 times faster than stepper or servo focusers and can realise the full bandwidth capability of the Motion X laser autofocus technique.

Different laser wavelengths are easily accommodated and mechanical options include objective positioners, turret positioners, sample-positioning and (well-plate) Z-stages and OEM Z-positioning elements.

Focustrac works with microscopes from industry leaders including Olympus, Leica, Nikon, Zeiss and Mitutoyo, and is also readily integrated into OEM assemblies.

Physik Instrumente

PI is a global manufacturer of high precision positioning systems and products based on piezo technology. Used in markets as diverse as biotechnology, semiconductor, defence and astronomy, PI’s products work to improve the speed and precision of many cutting edge processes. Actuators, sensors and positioning systems with either sub-micron or nanometre level precision; many customised for the end user, are included in the product range.

With manufacturing and subsidiary offices around the world and a workforce of more than 500 PI provides direct local support where it is needed. Products range from component level piezo ceramic assemblies to six axis hexapod positioning robots. PI manufactures its own piezo ceramic material including multilayer devices that incorporate its patented ceramic insulation technology. Lead free ceramic technology is now also included in the company’s product range. With the flexibility and continuity of supply offered by having control of piezo ceramic production comes security and speed of delivery for customers who rely on or are looking to move into this area of technology. PI’s piezo ultrasonic and step drive motor technologies offer unique performance including self-locking capability, high force or high speed and non-magnetic and vacuum compatibility.

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