Nanoscale motion control with a compact minimum-actuator magnetic levitator

Jie Gu, Won Jong Kim*, Shobhit Verma

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


This paper presents a novel magnetically levitated (maglev) stage developed to meet the ever-increasing precise positioning requirements in nanotechnology. This magnetic levitator has 6 independent linear actuators necessary and sufficient to generate all 6-degree-of-freedom (6-DOF) motions. This minimum-actuator design concept led to a compact, 200 g lightweight moving part and the power consumption less than of a Watt, thereby reducing the thermal-expansion error drastically. The analysis and sizing of the magnetic linear actuators and the working principle of the maglev stage are presented. We designed and implemented stabilizing controllers for 6-DOF motion control with the dynamic model based on the actuator analysis. Test results showed nanoscale step responses in all six axes with 2 nm rms horizontal position noise. A noise propagation model and analysis identified the capacitance sensor noise and the floor vibration as the dominant noise sources in the vertical and horizontal dynamics, respectively. A comparison of noise performances with controllers closed at 25, 65, and 90 Hz crossover frequencies illustrated how the selection of the control bandwidth should be made for nanopositioning. Experimental results including a 250 μm step response, sinusoidal and square-wave trajectories, and spherical motion generation demonstrated the three-dimensional (3D) nanoscale motion-control capability of this minimum-actuator magnetic levitator. Potential applications of this maglev stage include manufacture of nanoscale structures, atomic-level manipulation, assembly and packaging of microparts, vibration isolation for delicate instruments, and seismic motion detection.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)433-442
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Dynamic Systems, Measurement and Control, Transactions of the ASME
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2005


  • 6-DOF Motion
  • Nanoscale Motion Control
  • Noise Propagation and Analysis
  • Precision Magnetic Levitation
  • Real-Time Control

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Control and Systems Engineering
  • Information Systems
  • Instrumentation
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Computer Science Applications


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