A Linear Piezoelectric Stepper Motor with Submicrometer Step Size and Centimeter Travel Range

Jack W. Judy, Dennis L. Polla, William P. Robbins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

72 Scopus citations


A linear stepper motor capable of submicrometer controlled movement has been constructed using the piezoelectric material lead zirconate titanate (PZT). This motor consists of a piezoelectric driving element measuring 25.4 mm × 12.7 mm × 1.6 mm connected between a glider base and an attached load. This device is inset in a trench to constrain motion to one dimension. An electrode on the bottom of the glider is used with an electrode on the top of the trench to implement an electrostatic clamp. This clamp enables the stepper motor to climb slopes of up to 12°, whereas without the clamp only slopes of 6° or less are tolerated. A linear inertial sliding motion can be achieved by expanding and contracting the piezoelectric bar but the addition of the electrostatic clamp enhances the movement capabilities of the glider by the periodic clamping and unclamping of the glider. Glider velocities of 5.7-476 μm/s were measured by timing the movement of the glider over a 1.0-mm portion of the track through an optical microscope. Displacement steps of 0.07-1.1 μm were calculated by dividing the measured glider velocity by the frequency of the applied voltage pulses. Displacement step size and glider velocity were controlled by the application of PZT extension voltages ranging from ±(60-340) V. The ability of the piezoelectric stepper motor to implement sub-micrometer motion with the large (centimeter) travel distances may have applications to electron microscopy, scanning tunneling microscopy, alignment of optical fibers, and magnetic recording.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)428-437
Number of pages10
JournalIEEE Transactions on Ultrasonics, Ferroelectrics, and Frequency Control
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 1990

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Manuhcript recetved Noven~ber2 7. 1989: revivxi February 23, 1990: accepted March 2. 1990. This work was supponed in part by the National Science Foundation (ECS-8906121 and ECS-8814651) and in part by the University of Minnesota Department of Electrical Enginecring Honor5 Program. The authors are with thc Department ot Electrical Engineering. Institute of Technology. University of Minnesota. 200 Union Street SE. N. Min. neapolis, MN 55455. IEEE Log Number 9036914.


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