Assembly of optic-electronic devices requires precision alignment of optical fibers with lasers or sensors, and then bonding. A worker looking through a microscope at the end of a fiber conventionally executes this precision alignment and bonding process.

The alignment and bonding process can take as little as five minutes; however, if there is a misalignment of the fiber ends, this process can take as long as 45 minutes to an hour. Misalignment often occurs because the fibers are subject to other than pure linear movement during the alignment process. Accordingly, a need exists for an improved alignment process that will reduce, if not eliminate, misalignment of a fiber end.

The conventional process for manufacturing deformable structure micro-positioning devices is costly and time-consuming. Typically, each device must be individually machined from a separate piece of material. Additionally, six-degree-of-freedom micro-positioners require separate manufacturing and assembly steps for each of the individual positioners. A manufacturing process that produces deformable structure micro-positioning devices, including six-degree-of-freedom devices, is needed.

This invention is a positioning stage for fine precision object manipulation in manufacturing and assembly processes. These objects can range from large objects, or macro-scale objects, to very small objects commonly referred to as micro-scale objects. Objects in the micro-scale are measured in micrometers. Even smaller objects in the micro-scale are measured in sub-micrometers. And, extremely small objects in the micro-scale are measured in nanometers. Objects at the nano level are smaller than those measured in sub-microns. Objects in this smallest scale can include individual atoms.

The positioning device includes a movable stage where objects to be positioned are placed. The movable stage has two perpendicular axes, which will be referred to as a Y-axis and an X-axis. The axes preferably intersect at the center of the movable stage. In this preferred configuration, each axis divides the movable stage into two halves.

The device delivers x-y linear motion ranging from less than a nanometer to 500 microns with an angular deviation of less than a tenth of current available products. The design makes use of dual parallel pairs of levers to generate perfectly straight-line motions. This design has negligible wobble and crosstalk error, thus eliminating the need for corrective motion action.

Benefits of this design include the use of embedded safety steps (door stops) that prevent the destruction of the mechanism if it is accidentally overloaded. A displacement sensor can be embedded into the device along the axis of the actuator, thus eliminating Abbe sine displacement measurement error (relation between displacement and incident angle). The design eliminates backlash and stiction.

Materials used to build these devices include aluminum, titanium, Invar®, steel, brass, and single crystal silicon. Capacitance displacement sensors have been embedded into the devices, with interferometers embedded into the MEMS micro-scale devices.

For more information, contact Jack Pevenstein, Technology Partnership Office, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; 301-975-5519.


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This article first appeared in the June, 2017 issue of Tech Briefs Magazine.

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