Stimulus supports cooperation on new-generation motion control

March 18, 2005


he development of new, improved motion-control systems is one of the goals of the NewMotion Project of Nyquist Industrial Control, the Technical University of Eindhoven (TU/e) and FEI Company. The project has attracted 1.2 million Euros in funding from Stimulus.

Nyquist, TU/e and FEI all will be involved in the development of new motion control systems. The NewMotion Project targets a modular system comprising the hard- and software platform from Nyquist (NYCe4000). Nyquist develops high-tech motion control systems for various applications. The TU/e will support Nyquist and FEI with research into the necessary new control techniques. FEI will equip high-precision mechatronic systems with the NewMotion system and implement and integrate them in electron microscopes.

The NewMotion Project concerns the development of new, high-quality measurement, control and actuator systems for advanced industrial robots. In technical jargon, these types of system are known as ‘motion control’ systems. The new motion-control system will be developed in consultation with the development of a first, very advanced application, a specimen manipulator (‘stage’) in a transmission electron microscope. This manipulator demands a movement and positioning accuracy down to the atomic level, which will be realized through a combination of mechatronics and the new motion-control system.

In the NewMotion Project, Nyquist is financing the development of the motion-control platform, which includes development of the hardware as well as the software. More specifically, this is a control platform for steering mechatronic motion systems (stages).

The TU/e will study and develop new measurement and control algorithms in the field of motion-control technology. By means of fundamental applied scientific research, the TU/e will develop new measurement and control principles that will be used in the motion-control systems to increase the motion accuracy at the atomic level and achieve fluid motion in the nm/sec range.

FEI develops mechatronic stages, which are used at the heart of electron microscopes. In this project, FEI will develop new stages capable of meeting high technical demands. Moreover, FEI, as customer, will concentrate on the development of special stage mechanics, which via the application software, will make it possible to work in the 1nm world, even in three dimensions. The Nyquist motion-control system is an essential link in achieving the high positioning accuracies and FEI will implement these in its machines. The precision can be compared with the growth of a hair, which grows at the rate of 1 nm per second.

Nyquist’s latest product, NYCe4000, will be used in the project and extended. The NYCe4000 is a robust, high-end industrial motion-control system with integrated amplifier technology and offers everything necessary for controlling a complex machine, which takes up minimal space and reduces the amount of cabling in a machine. This reduces the system and integration costs, while increasing the availability and service level. FEI’s electron microscopes are extremely advanced. In order to study ultra-small structures or even atoms in specimens, the entire machine, as well as the position of the specimen in the machine, has to be accurately determined and maintained. FEI, TU/e and Nyquist complement each other in the area of interaction between the NYCe4000 and the electron microscopes.