Call us (Europe): +49 441 8008790 | Call us (USA): + 1 415 766 9006 | E-Mail us:


PicoScale Controller

The PICOSCALE Controller contains the laser source, optical components and electronics for evaluating the sensor signals. The signal processing unit is based on a hybrid system, with a high performance FPGA and an Embedded PC. This combination guarantees maximum flexibility and highest performance.

Quick Facts

Working principle3-channel Michelson interferometer
Measurement laser1550 nm DFB laser diode, stabilized (NIST traceable), Laser class 1
Fully integrated pilot laser650 nm laser diode
Resolution1 pm ( read more)
Working rangeup to 500 mm ( read more)
Maximum target velocity1 m/s ( read more)
ConnectivityUSB and Ethernet
Maximum data rates10 MSa/s (e.g. true 48 bit position signal → 480 Mbit/s)
Environmental compensationPossible with Environmental Module
Software control Graphical User Interface
Software APIs and DLLs (Windows and Linux)
LabVIEW® drivers
GPIO interface9x digital input/output
3x analog-to-digital converters (ADC)
5x digital-to-analog converters (DAC)
3x AquadB channels
1x external trigger input (BNC connector at controller front panel)
Controller chassis33 x 28 x 7.5 cm³

PicoScale Controller

The PICOSCALE Controller is the key component of a PICOSCALE interferometric position measurement system with three channels.

Quick and Convenient Alignment
A visible pilot laser beam is fully integrated in the PICOSCALE Controller and can be used for an initial coarse alignment. Using the graphical user interface ( GUI), the signal quality can be easily optimized using a Lissajous pattern and a “signal quality” bar. A subsequent fully automated optimization routine guarantees highest accuracy and performance.

The DFB laser diode is actively stabilized to a gas absorption cell, guaranteeing traceability to NIST standard SRM 2519a.

General Purpose Input/Output Interface (GPIO)
The PICOSCALE GPIO interface allows very flexible data input/output to/from the PICOSCALE and convenient integration into complex experimental periphery, especially in combination with the available firmware features “Advanced Trigger”, “Signal Generator” and “Calculation System” ( Software Modules). Position data are also provided by industry standard AquadB links. All signals can be accessed conveniently via the PICOSCALE Breakout-Box.

Both USB and Ethernet connectivity is provided in every PICOSCALE and allows very high data rates. Up to two users can connect to a single PICOSCALE Controller allowing remote data extraction, for example.

Firmware Modules
The Clock Generator module as well as the Counter module are provided with every PICOSCALE Controller. Basic trigger functionality is also included to allow for triggered data collection. The advanced trigger, signal generator and calculation system modules are powerful firmware upgrades that broaden the application range of the PICOSCALE ( read more).

Environmental Compensation
Variations in the ambient conditions of an experimental setup (causing virtual drifts of a target) can efficiently be cancelled out using the PICOSCALE Environmental Module.

The PICOSCALE Controller is equipped with a SmarAct Interface (SI) to easily link the PICOSCALE with SmarAct’s positioning systems. This way, the PICOSCALE can be used as a high-precision closed-loop position sensor.

Event Notification System
The PICOSCALE features a powerful event notification system that allows the user to react to unforeseen events, for example.

Related Accessories

Sensor Heads

The PICOSCALE sensor heads are mandatory equipment to perform high resolution displacement measurements. Within the heads, the probe and the reference beam interfere, and the interference pattern contains the information on the target mirror’s position.


Convenient access to all GPIO signals of the PICOSCALE. Digital and analog signals available at BNC connectors, AquadB data at D-Sub 15 connectors. ( Breakout-Box)

Environmental Module

Compact unit to track temperature, pressure and humidity. Based on the measured environmental data, position drift due to variations of the refractive index can efficiently be suppressed. ( Environmental Module)

Firmware Features

  • Advanced Trigger Extremely powerful software package to interface the PICOSCALE in complex experimental periphery.
  • Signal Generator Basic signal generator functionaliy to output standard or custom shapes through the GPIO interface.
  • Calculation System Powerful FPGA-based calculation unit to perform high-speed and realtime calculations.

PICOSCALE Software Modules