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Prodrive Technologies collaboration improves ESRF's precision and control capabilities

Prodrive Technologies collaboration improves ESRF's precision and control capabilities

We’ve been helping the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF) to improve their position scanning.

ESRF’s particle accelerator in Grenoble (France) effectively forms a huge microscope to study the structure of matter down to atomic level. It was recently upgraded to produce X-ray light some 10,000 billion times more powerful than medical X-rays. Scientists are using it in a wide variety of fields from nanotechnologies and chemistry through to archaeology and environmental sciences.

We discussed their needs for upgrading their beamline instrumentation, including the X-ray nano-positioning end stations. These have around 10,000 axes, mainly driven by stepper motors and piezoelectric actuators.

Linear motors, servo drives, and motion controllers

ESRF engineers are increasingly using single- and three-phase linear motors for positioning. Mastering each different manufacturer’s control platform is, however, a huge task not helped by the reluctance of many to share information on their architecture. ESRF is therefore looking to standardize on a common, versatile servo drive for as many instruments as possible.

The main requirement is the accuracy to scan within 10-15 nm with negligible jitter. This needs very low drive current ripple, and ESRF has successfully used Speedgoat® to collaborate with our Apogee drives. These have ultra-low noise, with accurate 24-bit current sensing and 200 kHz PWM output. They fit well with the application: Thomas Dehaeze at ESRF remarked “Prodrive’s drives give us better performance, better accuracy, and very low jitter.”

Apogee connects to our Arcas motion controller, which also allows EtherCAT® control and can synchronize 12 axes @ 10 kHz.

System integration and testing

ESRF has decided on our PMP (Prodrive Motion Platform) software as a universal drive interface. Next is to simulate integrating the beamline drives and motion controllers into the Python-based software that orchestrates the complete system. PMP’s Python APIs form a handy bridge, and Simulink® compatibility is another bonus since ESRF already uses it for complex real-time positioning.

This gives a useful “First Time Right” path to verify all their hardware and mechatronics before buying.


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