Stick-Slip Drive Technology

How it Works

SmarAct Stick-Slip Piezo Stages are equipped with a patented drive, combining macroscopic travel with nanometer resolution and high velocities of several millimeters per second. The working principle of a stick-slip piezo drive is explained in the following.


A piezo actuator is coupled to the slide of the guideway by a friction element that is permanently fixed to the actuator. The piezo actuator itself is fixed at the stationary base of the stage.


The piezo actuator is changing its length proportional to the applied voltage. Because of the controlled ramp-up of the applied voltage to the piezo, it will enlarge or shrink and the friction coupled slide will follow the movement of the friction element. This phase is called stick-phase.

A sharp decrease or increase of the applied voltage will cause a shortening or lengthening of the piezo on a very short time scale which yields to a very fast movement of the friction element.
As a result, the friction element is changing its position, while the slide does not follow. This phase is called slip phase. By repeating this sequence, a macroscopic travel of the slide can be achieved. This mode is called step mode.

During the stick-phase the slide can be moved by slowly enlarging or shortening of the piezo actuator with sub-nanometer resolution.


Piezo-driven stages are available with different options as indicated in the specification tables on each product page.
Here you can find a more in depth explanation about the features and advantages of each option.

Position Sensors

Optical and inductive sensors can be integrated into our stages for closed-loop position control, allowing you to define the desired travel distance or the target position and the velocity of the stage.

Sensor Type
Working Principle Optical Optical Optical Optical Inductive
Resolution [nm] 1 1 4 4 300
Reference Positions Single reference mark Multiple reference marks Single reference mark Multiple reference marks Endstop
Control System Compatibility MCS2, SDC2 MCS2 MCS2, SDC2, CU MCS2, CU EMS, CU
Vacuum Compatibility Down to 1E-11 mbar Down to 1E-11 mbar Atmospheric pressure only Atmospheric pressure only Down to 1E-6 mbar


For applications that require very low temperatures down to the mK range, specialized versions of our SLC and SR stages are available. Please have a look at the cryogenic stages section of our environment-specific stages subpage.


Standard stages are configured to work in atmospheric pressure. For high vacuum (HV, 1E-6 mbar) and ultra-high vacuum (UHV, 1E-11 mbar) applications, specialized versions are available. As SmarAct is a complete solution provider, we deliver complete vacuum compatible single stages or multi-axis systems including vacuum compatible cabling and HV or UHV electrical feedthroughs. Please have a look at the ultra-high vacuum piezo stages section of our environment-specific stages subpage.

Non-Magnetic Materials

Many stages are available as non-magnetic versions. In most cases their outer dimensions remain unchanged. Please have a look at the non-magnetic piezo stages section of our environment-specific stages subpage.

Higher Blocking Force

The blocking force is the maximum external force a stick-slip stage can withstand without slipping. For certain applications, when the required blocking force is higher than specified in the product specifications tables, the stages can be modified to be increase the blocking force by 1.5 N without changing its outer dimensions.

Constant Force Spring

If the application requires the stage to lift a constant load mounted in a vertical arrangement, a constant force spring setup can be integrated to compensate the weight of the payload.

U-Shaped Base

The stages of the SLC series are also available as versions with a U-shaped base instead of the rectangular standard bases. This special shape increases the mechanical strength of the stage significantly. Due to the different dimensions of the U-shaped base the width of the stage itself will be increased by 6mm. Nevertheless, the mounting hole pattern remains the same as for the standard bases.

SLC stage with a standard base

SLC stage with a U-shaped base