Optics & Photonics

Adjusting optical lenses for zooming and focusing or the adjustment of mirrors in laser applications require maximum precision in the smallest possible installation space. Here, FAULHABER drive systems provide full functionality in compact form.

Application Highlights

X-ray optics

When Wilhelm Röntgen discovered and investigated the X-ray in the late 19th century, he was one of the few pioneers in the field who routinely used protective lead shields. He may not have known the precise reasons why, but he suspected that this kind of radiation was not good for human health – and his suspicions were well founded. Despite this, X-rays help to restore health as they are one of the most powerful instruments in medical diagnostics and, in many cases, are crucial for identifying the right course of treatment. When it comes to achieving the best imaging with the lowest possible X-ray dose, lenses made by Italian company Optec are almost inevitably involved. Their aperture, focus, filters and zoom are moved by FAULHABER motors.

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Pulsed-laser beams

If you turn on your pocket torch for just a second and point it towards the sky, your beam reaches all the way to the moon. How fast would you need to switch the torch on and off in order for the beam to be shorter than the thickness of a human hair? It's not something you could accomplish with your thumb, that much is certain. Ultra-short beams, or pulses, of this order of magnitude are emitted by so-called femtosecond lasers, which split the laser light into compressed, high-energy wave packets. They can be used to work on any material – from the cornea of the human eye to super-hard ceramics – with micron accuracy. The French manufacturer of precision devices, ISP System, produces the actuators with which the prisms, mirrors and fi lters in such high-performance lasers are precisely aligned so that the light pulses reach the right point with the right power. Reliable drive is ensured by the stepper motors from FAULHABER.

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Surgical vision systems

The automated lens positioning unit allows surgeons the effortless viewing of retina and cornea without neck contortions.

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Microscope Scanning Stage

Modern microscopes have become an indispensable part of medical research. The procedure for quickly and precisely examining the relevant sections of a sample has always been to adjust the slide’s position by moving the stage under the lens. But thanks to technological advancements, manual adjustments are quickly becoming a thing of the past. The task is now given to microdrives. But not all microdrives are created equal. In order to avoid mechanical play and ensure quick movement with utmost precision, a new concept uses small linear DC-Servomotors. With drive lengths in the decimeter range, it boasts a repeat accuracy of a few microns.

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Surgical microscope head set

The trend towards high-precision procedures and miniaturization in medicine and industry has continued unabated over recent years. Keyhole surgery and dental technology as well as industrial microtechnology are prime examples. Unfortunately, it takes considerable effort to identify small structures with the naked eye. Magnifying glasses, with their one-dimensional vision, are often problematic. Unwieldy stationary stereoscopic microscopes are equally impractical, particularly in the field of medicine. However, a new kind of optical system is now revolutionizing work on microscopic structures; it is worn as a head set. Miniature stepper motors control magnification and focus for each eye. A crystalclear 3D view allows operations on even the smallest of vessels as well as the investigation or assembly of microscopic structures – without straining the eyes.

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Giant telescope

Modern astronomy is struggling with the same problems as the first celestial explorers did centuries ago. The stars shine only faintly, and the further away the star, the less light hits the Earth. This issue can only be addressed by focusing the light – in other words, the telescopes keep getting larger. Today's technology is so advanced that dealing with the ever-growing scale of telescopes is relatively simple. However, giant telescopes with stationary lenses are inflexible. Hence flexible solutions are increasingly being used, specifically the mirrors are becoming thin and adjustable and the objective lens itself is designed through individual components to be movable. Micro-drives are used to adjust the optics in order to minimise material variances, gravitational distortion or refraction fluctuations of the atmosphere. The focus is on miniature drives with backlash-free gears and long-term reliability.

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LBT (Large Binocular Telescope)

If you want to set things in motion, you will always require some form of drive. However, conventional technology employs relatively large designs and is too cumbersome for many applications. The trend toward miniaturization, though, has definitely made its mark on motion control engineering. Small, powerful electric motors with a diameter of only a few millimeters guarantee pioneering innovations in a wide variety of fields. It is not only industrial automation that benefits but, to an increasing extent, other sectors as well. Nowadays modern miniature drives are even enhancing science, as demonstrated by the following example of an application in the field of astronomy. A combination of miniature DC motor, encoder, and a low-backlash planetary gearhead ensures that optical assemblies are positioned with precision.

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