New Scale miniaturizes its cryogenic motor

April 13, 2007
April 13, 2007, Victor, NY--Automated alignment of small optics at cryogenic temperatures has now become easier, thanks to a tiny cryogenic motor unveiled by New Scale Technologies.

April 13, 2007, Victor, NY--Automated alignment of small optics at cryogenic temperatures has now become easier, thanks to a tiny cryogenic motor unveiled by New Scale Technologies. The custom cryogenic version of the company's miniature SQL Series piezoelectric "Squiggle" motor was announced this week at the SPIE Defense & Security Symposium (April 9-12 2007; Orlando, FL). The motor operates continuously from room temperature to cryogenic temperatures (77K 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 motor was created for applications such as portable sensors, where system miniaturization is desired. It is currently used to align cooled optics at 100K 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 eliminates this time-consuming process by allowing precise, active alignment of the optics at any temperature.

"Conventional electromagnetic motors do not work at all at cryogenic temperatures," said David Henderson, co-CEO and chief technology officer at New Scale. "Other piezoelectric motors lack the Squiggle motor's high push force and submicron 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. It has a 0.5 micrometer resolution, a speed (at a 100 g load) of 5 mm/sec, and a stall force of greater than 100 g. 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.

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