- Silicon PhotonicsSilicon PhotonicsThanks to the immense transmission capacity and low energy consumption, optical communication is penetrating ever deeper layers of data/communication networks. Servers are increasingly connected via glass fibers, peripherals are starting to leverage photonic cables that combine high capacity and convenient lengths, and soon computers will see internal functionalities transferred to the medium of light in form of integrated photonic circuits (PICs). The important new field of silicon photonics requires that these new components must be tested and assembled with the highest precision since a misalignment would mean lost yield, poor performance or failure.
- Technology of Active AlignmentTechnology of Active AlignmentThe development and manufacturing of photonic devices reminds us in many ways of the early years of the semiconductor industry in the mid-1980s. PI was a young company at the time and already deeply integrated into the production tools being deployed in early fabs around the world. But these tools were usually homemade by in-house or captive local systems integrators. The vast ecosystem of toolmakers that the industry enjoys today had yet to be born. The situation is similar in photonics today: the toolmaker ecosystem is just emerging. While the front-end manufacturing of photonic-enabled wafers can rely on the existing microlithography infrastructure, the industry for the back-end processes is just starting to develop. Some excellent tools and toolmakers have already emerged, and in-house test/assembly machine design remains an option for many silicon photonics device manufacturers.
- The Missing LinkThe Missing LinkAs an example of the fresh innovations emerging for photonics-device assembly, TEGEMA B.V. (NL), the multidisciplinary system integrator, has developed a modular machine platform for the automated assembly of optical components, in particular of photonically integrated circuits (PICs). The system, which works with submicron precision, can grow from tasks in research and development of PICs up to their series production thanks to its intelligent architecture.
- SiPh Wafer ProbingSiPh Wafer ProbingThe integration of photonic structures or elements on a silicon chip presents, already at wafer level, a multitude of new challenges for the testing technology of these elements. In order to transmit the design of the structure, from the concept through its qualification up to series production, a very large amount of performance data of the respective element is required.
- Technology of Active Alignment
- MicroscopyMicroscopyMicroscopy, like no other technology, is constantly expanding our knowledge about what holds the world together at its core, about what the building blocks of life look like. In life sciences, materials research, geology, archeology, mineralogy... again and again, microscopes in the hands of brilliant researches provide the newest findings and so make innovations possible.
- Configure your Microscope StageConfigure your Microscope StageThe precise and fast movement of the sample or the objective play a crucial role for achieving good results when working with light microscopes. The demands on stages and scanners are manifold. In addition to the position resolution, which directly correlates with the optical resolution of the microscope, velocity and dynamics are other elemental requirements for the motion system.
- Open Source Microscopy ProjectsOpen Source Microscopy ProjectsMicroscopy is one of the technologies that is constantly reinventing itself. The first microscopes from the early 17th century were very simple in design, but countless developments have steadily increased their performance.
- Electron MicroscopyElectron MicroscopyApplications for electron microscopy cover a broad spectrum from semiconductor inspection through materials research to molecular biology research. In conventional TEM as well as in the newer Cryo-TEM, which was awarded the Nobel Prize in 2017, the samples have to be nanopositioned with high precision in an XYZ coordinate and then tilted around one axis to produce a certain number of transmission images for image reconstruction.
- Atomic Force MicroscopyAtomic Force MicroscopyAtomic force microscopy supplies researchers and developers extremely high resolution topographical data from a large number of different minerals, polymers, mixtures, composite materials or biological tissue. This technology, developed in the 1980s, enables users to obtain subatomic resolved images of sample surfaces.
- Configure your Microscope Stage
- BiotechnologyBiotechnologyBiotechnology is one of the oldest applied sciences of humanity: Using yeast to bake bread or to ferment fruit to alcohol is, for example, biotechnology that is being practiced and developed for thousands of years. Today, this discipline has countless applications in medicine (red), agriculture (green), and the industry (white).
- Genome SequencingGenome SequencingBlue, brown, or green eyes? Which hair color? Which illnesses may affect us? Whose child am I? All of this information and much more is stored, or at least set, in our genes. In crime novels, but also in real life, genetic analysis is called upon for advice when it comes to finding an answer to the question, "Who did it?". The "genetic fingerprint" has become an often consulted and unmistakable evidence. Last but not least, genome analysis holds the key to groundbreaking discoveries for many health-related questions.
- Genome Sequencing
- Medical DevicesMedical DevicesProgress in medical research, diagnostics, and therapy requires high-performance, precise motion and positioning systems. High positioning precision, compact dimensions, low energy consumption, speed, and absolute reliability are just some of the requirements for the drives in use. However, the applications are so varied as are the technologies and solutions with which PI supports its customers on all levels of value creation: From operation robots through miniature drives for endoscopy cameras to aperture adjustment in radiotherapy or even the precise, targeted positioning of patients on operating tables that can be adjusted in six degrees of freedom.
- EndoscopyEndoscopyModern medical technology focuses on developing therapies that cause as little discomfort to patients as possible. Endoscopes that allow minimally invasive surgery, make an important contribution to this, for example, in laparoscopy. Especially during medical interventions, the demand for focused and detailed image information is of the highest priority in order to achieve the best possible chances of success.
- Surgical Robots: Patient Couch for RadiotherapyPatient Couch for RadiotherapyIn radiotherapy, it is particularly important to ensure that healthy tissues are protected. This is why, it is absolutely necessary to position the patient precisely during radiotherapy. Patient couches that employ hexapods from PI are very well suited for this task.
- AstronomyAstronomyEven in the earliest history, humans were incredibly fascinated by space; cave paintings or the Nebra sky disk bear witness of this. The question, "What are those shimmering colors in the night sky?" developed into the question of how galaxies, stars, and planetary systems developed. Highly sensitive systems such as the Atacama Large Millimeter/Submillimeter Array telescope assembly – in short ALMA – provide the data with which researchers are trying to solve these mysteries – and raise new questions.
- ALMA-ArrayALMA-ArrayA spectacular, albeit essentially impossible image caused a worldwide sensation on April 10, 2019: The first ever "photograph" of a black hole. 55 million light years away at the center of the M87 galaxy. The unbelievably strong gravitational pull means that even light cannot escape. But, thanks to the Event Horizon Telescope - a combination of eight radio telescopes - the participating researchers outsmarted physics to a certain extent and for the first time, created an image of a black hole's shadow. This shadow is cast by the radiation from the distorted light while being irrevocably absorbed by the black hole.
- SemiconductorSemiconductorFor decades, no other product has shaped and changed our lives as much as the omnipresent microchips. Whether computers in all their variants, cell phones and smartphones, game consoles, cars and airplanes, yes, now even the home refrigerator, oven or iron and toaster – nothing works anymore without these jack-of-all-trades made of doped silicon. PI has played a large part in this success story.
DNA Recombination Made Visible by Detecting Fluorescence Signals
In the "sequencing-by-synthesis" method, so called "flow cells" of nucleotide with fluorescent markers are gradually incorporated into a single strand DNA (nucleic acid chain) and are, as such, 'synthesized'. If it comes to a recombination of the base pair, a characteristic fluorescent color signal is generated in the visual spectrum for each of the four different base pair combinations. The four colors are: Blue, green, yellow, and red. These signals can be detected microscopically.
Since the signals are weak and also very short lived, the detection and imaging process must be very fast. For this purpose, two coordinated positioning processes are necessary.
First of all, the flow cell must be precisely positioned under the objective. For this, PI offers high-precision XY stages. Depending on the size of the flow cell and its actual geometric shape, the flow cell gets analyzed over a travel range of more than 100 mm in size – this must be done quickly but with high precision in order to detect all signals.
In addition, the objective must be precisely aligned to the occurrence along the optical axis, within the depth of field of the lens. Depending on the magnification factor of the lens, the depth of field may be in the range of a few hundred nanometers. Not only is the relevant precision key, but also speed and dynamics. Because, on the one hand, the exact level of the occurrence (fluorescence signal) cannot be predicted and, on the other hand, possible tolerances of the flow cell as well as slightest errors due to pitch/yaw of the the XY positioning stages must be levelled out by the motion.
For Z focusing, PI offers both PIFOC® objective positioning stages, which are based on lever-amplified piezo actuators, and, alternatively, highly dynamic voice coil drives with large travel ranges.