SMARPOD - A Hexapod-like Positioning System
The SMARPOD offers the same degrees of freedom as classical hexapod systems while guaranteeing high resolution and repeatability. Compared to serial kinematic systems with six degrees of freedom SMARPODs exhibit a higher stiffness and a higher rigidity. A user friendly software package allows easy integration into your own control environment assuring a very short setup time.
The SMARPOD, like all other SmarAct products, is highly customizable and can be integrated into completely customized setups. Regardless if your application requires only a modified base or top plate or a completely different configuration do not hesitate to contact us to discuss your requirements and the best-suited solution. Let us assist you in bringing your idea to life.
The SMARPOD is a parallel kinematics positioning system. The top plate is actuated by the simultaneous movement of multiple linear stages in contrast to a serial kinematic approach where each translation is the result of the movement of a specific linear or rotation stage.
The parallel arrangement of the SMARPOD’s stages contributes to the overall stiffness of the system and allows to the top plate to be translated and rotated in six degrees of freedom.
Control in Cartesian Coordinates
Calculation of the kinematics model and device control is encapsulated in a software package. Programming interfaces and graphical user interfaces allow to move the SMARPOD in Cartesian coordinates (X, Y, Z, roll, pitch and yaw) and to adjust the systems pivot point and coordinate system.
User-Definable Pivot Point and Axis Alignment
The great advantage of the SMARPOD is the possibility to freely set the rotations’ pivot point. Thus, defining the center of rotation for all axis which allows you to precisely rotate around any point in space. This is a great advantage in many applications, e.g. for the alignment of optical components. For example, when mounting a fiber optic holder with a free standing fiber onto the SMARPOD you
can easily define the end face of the fiber as the pivot point. Such a setup allows you to precisely change the orientation of the emitted beam while keeping the fiber end point pinned to a fixed point in space. The coordinate system can be adjusted as well. Shifting and rotating the base coordinate system allows the SMARPOD axes to be aligned with objects in its environment.
All SMARPODs with circular base plates include an aperture in the base and in the top plate, respectively. These apertures allow to gain access from beneath the positioning system to electrically connect the payload or to gain optical access to mounted components.
For in-vacuo applications SmarAct SMARPODs are available in high and ultra-high vacuum compatible versions. Furthermore, they can also be made out of fully non-magnetic materials to be used in applications utilizing charged particle beams or high magnetic fields. A minor restriction applies to the P-SLL SMARPOD as its X stage is based on a SLL stage which is only HV compatible and is not available in a non-magnetic version.
A backlash-free mechanical design makes it possible to achieve a movement performance of the positioning system which is in the same order of magnitude as for our single stages. The smallest movement increment is 1 nm for linear and 1 μrad for rotary motions.
When using the whole travel range the linear bidirectional repeatability in X, Y and Z is 200 nm. For smaller movements the repeatability is in the order of several nanometers which has been verified in a test bench setup utilizing SmarAct’s PICOSCALE Interferometer.
For this test, a plane mirror was mounted to the top plate of a SMARPOD facing a PICOSCALE sensor head. The SMARPOD was then commanded to move 10 steps back and forth with a step height of 10 nm and hold time between each step of 200 ms.
The position data recorded with the PICOSCALE Interferometer verifies the excellent linear repeatability of the SMARPOD.
When repeating the test for longer travel ranges of 1 mm the linear bidirectional repeatability shows that the reference position can be repeatedly reached with an accuracy of 7 nm.
The bidirectional repeatability of the top plates rotation was also measured in a test setup utilizing three PICOSCALE sensor heads. A plane mirror was mounted to the top plate of the SMARPOD facing the two sensor heads. When performing a rotation the two sensor heads measure a change in the optical path length from which the rotation angle can be calculated. In this test the top plate was tilted in 10 steps of 1 μrad each back and forth. The hold time between each step was 500 ms. The angular data recorded with the PICOSCALE Interferometers verifies the excellent angular repeatability of the SMARPOD.