Magnetic Levitation Nanopositioning


Auburn, MA – PI, a premium manufacturer of air cushion and nanopositioning equipment, has developed a high precision maglev based technology demonstrator. Magnetic levitation is a frictionless motion technology that uses a magnetic field to levitate and propel objects. MagLev technology is used in a variety of applications, most notably in high-speed trains and magnetic bearings, and has major benefits in precision motion control and nano-positioning applications.

​​​​​​The basic principle of magnetic levitation is that like magnetic poles repel each other. To achieve magnetic levitation in its simplest form, two magnets are used; one magnet is placed over the object that needs to be lifted, and the other is placed underneath it.

For this principle to be useful for nano-positioning and precision motion control, for example in linear translational stages, the magnet in the base must be an electrically controllable coil and more than a pair is needed to also control lateral motion, vertical motion and pitch, yaw, And spin. A high-resolution position sensing system is also required for feedback to the motion controller. As there are no mechanical bearings restricting the linear stage platform motion, all six degrees of freedom are available to correct bearing deficiencies, with a powerful multi-axis controller.

Applications of nano maglev positioning systems can be found in semiconductor assays and high-resolution metrology, photonics, optics and microscopy. Its advantages are no wear and maintenance free (cleanroom compatible) particle generation, controllable multidimensional motion in a compact package, and virtually unlimited service life. Unlike the air cushion stages, no compressed air supply is required.

PI has invested heavily in magnetic levitation research for nanopositioning applications and will work with customers to advance the technology together. Tech demonstrators are available at the Silicon Valley PI technology hub.​​​​​​​​

About PI

PI is a global leader in photonic alignment, precision motion control, nanoposition stages and automation subsystems. Technologies include hexapods, magnetic drives, air cushions, and piezo drives. The company was founded 5 decades ago and today employs more than 1,500 people in more than 20 locations worldwide with manufacturing sites in the United States, Europe and Asia. PI’s customers are leaders in the high-tech industry and research institutions in fields such as photonics, life sciences, semiconductors and aerospace.


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