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Heason Technology designs and builds custom motion systems for beamline physics

Published: 7 April 2017 - Sarah Mead

As part of its custom motion system design and build capability Heason Technology is an active supplier for research related projects at synchrotron source facilities worldwide. Successful systems installed at prestigious beamline sites include Diamond Light Source - UK, Rutherford Appleton Laboratory - UK, Brookhaven National Laboratory - USA, PTB - Hamburg, and Synchrotron Soleil in France. Applications involve custom engineered high precision positioning tables and motion controls for mounting and manipulating samples under study as well as slits for beam collimation and micropositioners for aligning focussing mirrors.

As the beamlines operate in vacuum conditions and some positioning systems are held in vacuum chambers, many applications involve UHV vacuum compatibility. Further requirements characteristic of such applications are the exclusive use of non-ferromagnetic materials so as not to influence the instrument's measurement capability. Rigorous temperature and pressure cycles can also be involved with temperature regulation also critical to maintain the submicron, and in some cases, nanometre levels of precision demanded.

To meet these stringent requirements Heason Technology has partnership agreements with several specialist manufacturers of individual components that suit UHV vacuum and other harsh environments. These arrangements go beyond normal distribution; involving product and application training and close support at both the application/sales engineer and design engineer level. With its own in-house motion systems design and mechatronic system integration capability, Heason Technology brings these specialised components together for turn-key multi-axis positioner projects.

Components specific to these demanding applications include piezo-ceramic direct drive linear and rotary motor systems, vacuum compatible optical encoders, vacuum compatible stepper motors, ceramic bearings and all-stainless cross roller bearings with low magnetic permeability.

In terms of size and scale, past projects have been very diverse: A 2 metre travel single axis linear stage with a ceramic motor drive that positions to 50 nanometre resolution through a linear encoder with speeds to 80 mm/sec is used in a cryogenically cooled vacuum chamber; A 5-axis UHV compatible motion system has sub-micron resolution for precise X, Y linear and pitch, yaw and roll positioning of a 120 kg load - with a sophisticated motion control system that includes kinematic transformation for its rotary axes. A 14-axis linear and rotary UHV compatible and low magnetic positioning system positions samples and optics in a 550 mm diameter vacuum chamber with optical encoder closed loop feedback with resolution to below 50 nanometres.

Heason Technology is also at the forefront for the design of specialist slit packages that are used to control the physical width of the beam and its angular spread enabling research scientists to ´tune´ the beam to achieve the optimal frequency required for the materials being examined on the synchrotron instrument. These collimators are typically 4-axis ceramic motor driven linear blades with sub-micron resolution supported in ceramic bearings housed in aluminium frames. In particular the ceramic motor´s inherent ability to hold and lock position when power is removed assures stability.

Heason Technology´s work with the synchrotron and neutron beam research community extends to close cooperation with scientists and engineers from the initial design concept phase through to approval, installation and service life support - with full acceptance testing, documentation, training and site visits. As the synchrotron beamlines become more and more powerful, and scientific techniques and instrumentation systems grow in power and sophistication for ever more precise results, so too does the requirement for the micropositioning systems that collimate and align beams, position samples or align detectors.

Heason Technology works in many other areas of industry and research, providing specialist custom designed motion systems that harness its mechatronics integration capability.

Industry Connections: Heason Technology Ltd

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-November 2017+