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Cryogenic Positioners

High Precision Positioners for Cryogenic Temperatures

Cryo Positioner by SmarAct

Many experiments in fundamental research require cryogenic temperatures often in the single digit Kelvin range or below. Additionally, in many cases it is not only necessary to cool the samples but also to manipulate them precisely within the cryostat. We have developed stick-slip piezo actuators with low-heat profiles and ultra-high vacuum compatibility which allow sample manipulation down to the mK regime. Resistive cabling (based on phosphor bronze) is optionally available to reduce the heat load to the manipulation stage.

The stages are based on our piezo driving technology which is optimized for cryogenic temperatures down to the mK range. Additionally, they can be used at temperatures of up to 330 K like our standard UHV positioners. Furthermore, they are bakeable at high temperatures of up to +150 °C.

The steel positioners from the SLC-series are based on linear slides with crossed-roller bearings. Their non-magnetic counterparts utilize ceramic ball bearings made of zirconium dioxide. Both types are characterized by their high rigidity and straightness.

The cryogenic positioners completely retain the compact design of the non-cryogenic positioners and are therefore ideally suited for limited spaces typically found in cryostats.

We use titanium as base-material and solid-state coating as dry lubricant for our high precision bearings. The used titanium is thermally matched to the bearing which prevents internal strain during cooling and heating cycles. Accordingly, it ensures long lifetimes under cryogenic and ultra-high vacuum conditions.

Cryogenic stages in lengths between 12 and 60 mm are available with standard strokes ranging from 4.5 mm to 41 mm. The step width of our cryogenic positioners can be set to about 50 – 1000 nm at 14 K and 50 – 1500 nm at 300 K.

The cryogenic positioners are compatible with our MCS2 and our MCS1 controllers. Both controllers are available in different housing options like tabletop, single control board or 19” rack mount module and with different PC interface options like USB, RS232 or Ethernet. They are bundled with powerful software tools, i.e., an SDK and the Precision Tool Commander.

SmarAct’s cryogenic positioners can easily be assembled into complete positioning systems including thermalization management and customization to your application. Please contact our sales team for quotations and further information.

Key Features

  • For cryogenic environments, e.g., liquid Helium temperatures
  • Large working temperature range from mK to 330 K
  • Bakeable at temperatures of up to +150 °C
  • High resolution piezo stick-slip drive
  • Guided movement (high-precision crossed-roller bearings)
  • Miniaturization: compact cryogenic positioner down to 12 x 12 x 5.2 mm
  • Vacuum compatibility down to ultra-high vacuum (UHV) applications (10-11 mbar)
  • Non-magnetic versions available
  • Customizable assemblies

Specs at a Glance

  • Scan range:
    > 1 µm @ 14 K
    > 5 µm @ 300 K
  • Scan resolution: < 1 nm for all temperatures
  • Velocity:
    > 1 mm/s @ 14 K
    > 20 mm/s @ 300 K
  • Blocking force: > 2 N for all temperatures
  • Open loop
Available Linear Cryogenic Positioners:
Series Type Travel in mm Length x Width x Height in mm³
SLC-06* 10 4.5 12x 12 x 5.2
SLC-17 20 6 21x 17 x 8.5
SLC-17 30 21 30 x 17 x 8.5
SLC-17 40 26 40 x 17 x 8.5
SLC-17 50 31 50 x 17 x 8.5
SLC-17 60 41 60 x 17 x 8.5
SLC-24 30 16 30 x 24 x 10.5
SLC-24 45 29 45 x 24 x 10.5
SLC-24 60 35 60 x 24 x 10.5
* The SL-06 series has a reduced blocking force of approx. 0.5 N and a reduced normal load of approx. 1 N. Not available as non-magnetic version.
Available Rotary Cryogenic Positioners:
Series Dimensions Blocking Torque Max. Normal Force Step Width Scan Range Scan Resolution Angular Velocity
SRT20:06 20x20x6 mm³ > 0.5 Ncm 0.5 N 1-10 m° >14 m° < 1µ° >10°/s
SR-2812 37.5x30x12 mm³ > 1 Ncm 2 N 0.3–1.5 m° > 2 m° < 1µ° >5°/s