Useful Articles and Papers

Want to learn more about piezoelectric micro motors, micro stages, motion systems and applications? Here are some articles and papers that we think you’ll find useful. Have a look, and then give us a call with your questions about the technology and its applications. We love this stuff!


Customer case study

Embedded motion modules enable development of complete neural probe positioning system in only a few months

A neuroscience researcher successfully used M3-LS Linear Smart Stage assemblies for positioning of probes during in-vivo recording. New Scale engineers then collaborated on an integrated multi-probe positioning assembly to meet the needs of this market.

Read the multi-probe micromanipulator case study

Read the article as published in Medical Design Technology magazine

Customer case study

Instrument maker uses M3 motion modules to create new market opportunities

A customer wanted to create a backpack-portable blood analyzer for use in resource-limited settings that do not have access to institutional laboratory instruments and services. New Scale’s miniature precision focus system helped to make it possible.

Blood analyzers are essential for detecting and monitoring disease and ensuring that patients receive appropriate treatment. Until recently, access to these tests was limited to benchtop instruments in hospitals and testing labs. These fixed systems, which cost more than $250K, require sophisticated sample preparation methods and rely on highly-trained operators. New backpack-portable blood analyzers can provide accurate blood analysis in resource-limited settings. These smaller instruments dramatically increase patient access to advanced medical care and open new markets for the instrument manufacturers.

Read the portable cytometer case study


Top 20 Technology Picks for 2015

Laser Focus World magazine
December 2015

New Scale’s micro beam steering solutions for handheld devices are among Senior Editor John Wallace’s Top 20 Technology Picks for 2015.

“When miniaturizing optical instruments for portable use, making the light source, optics, detector, and electronics as small as possible isn’t enough—the design engineer must also know what options are out there for compact mechanics,” Wallace writes. “For example, micro beam-steering system need to be very small, operate on battery power, and resist shock and vibration. For many uses, they should also rapidly move optics with milliradian precision in any orientation and work over wide temperature ranges. Engineers at New Scale Technologies (Victor, NY) have developed different approaches to beam steering that meet these requirements.”

See the list in Laser Focus World’s digital edition.


Handshake stabilization in microsurgery

from the Surgical Mechatronics Lab at the Carnegie Mellon University Robotics Institute

This video shows how CMU’s “Micron” handheld tool improves microsurgery through active tremor cancellation for better control of a tool tip. Applications shown are in vitreo retinal surgery, handheld scanning for intraocular optical coherence tomography (OCT), and automated intraocular laser photocoagulation.

View the video


Smart off-axis absolute position sensor solution and UTAF piezo motor enable closed-loop control of a miniaturized Risley prism pair

by David Cigna and Lisa Schaertl

Many optical applications require an off-axis sensor configuration to leave a clear aperture for light transmission through the center of a rotating optical element, which may be a polarizing optic, a micro filter wheel, a wedged prism or other component.

Hall effect position sensors with on-chip analog-to-digital conversion (ADC) lend themselves to very tiny systems. Using a novel implementation of these integrated linear position sensors, engineers at New Scale Technologies created a unique off-axis rotary position sensor that delivers absolute angular position information over a standard I2C serial digital interface. This sensor has a wide clear aperture, very small size and low power use. Coupled with New Scale’s tiny piezoelectric motors, it enables highly-miniaturized optical systems.

Read the article or download the PDF.


Precision micro beam-steering systems simplify move to handheld instruments

Published in Laser Focus World magazine
July 2015
by Jeff Kramer and David Henderson

Beam-steering components are an essential part of many optical systems, especially those with lasers. Moving mirrors, prisms, lenses, and diffractive gratings are common optical methods to steer the output from collimated or noncollimated light sources in multiple rotational axes.

Typical commercial beam-steering methods include nested gimbals that move a single mirror, fast steering mirrors that use two or three short-range parallel linear actuators to tilt a single mirror, two-mirror systems that use orthogonal galvanometer-mirror modules, and coaxial transmissive Risley prisms with independent rotation around the optical axis. Newer beam-steering devices use microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) and microelectronic fabrication methods to create highly miniaturized devices. These include silicon arrays containing millions of tiny mirrors that are individually switched between two angular positions, liquid-crystal optical phased array (OPA) beam-steering systems, and silicon mirrors rotated in two axes using gimbal-less flexures and electrostatic or magnetic actuation.

When using these MEMS devices, it is a significant challenge to create correspondingly small drive and control electronics to achieve a truly miniaturized beam steering system. Additional challenges include achieving high precision and linearity, and incorporating the ultrahigh-reflectivity optical coatings necessary for use with high-power lasers. A fully integrated and miniaturized “point-to-point” beam steering system bypasses the issues with MEMS-based approaches and addresses the needs of many emerging markets in medicine and industry.  Continue reading at >>


Advances in Micromechatronics Promote All-in-One Positioning Modules

Published in Photonics Spectra magazine
May 2015
by David Henderson

Smart motion technologies can reduce system size and simplify integration, enabling smaller photonic instruments with full performance.

Advances in microactuators, microelectronics and micromechatronics are enabling a new class of all-in-one “smart” positioning modules for photonics system miniaturization. Many of these inventions stem from the mobile phone industry demands to pack more features into smaller spaces while using less power. Now these smart motion capabilities are creating exciting opportunities for reduced size and unmatched performance in handheld, portable and mobile instruments.

For analytical instruments based on spectroscopy and spectrometry, miniaturization requires substantial… continue reading at >>

Or download the PDF

Research Paper

Manipulator Design and Operation of a Six-Degree-of-Freedom Handheld Tremor-Canceling Microsurgical Instrument

Published in IEEE/ASME Transactions on Mechatronics Volume 20 issue 2
By Sungwook Yang, R.A. MacLachlan and C.N. Riviere; Robotics Institute, Carnegie Mellon University

A handheld instrument for active tremor compensation during microsurgery incorporates a proof-of-concept hexapod system developed in collaboration with New Scale Technologies. The hexapod system uses six piezoelectric SQUIGGLE micro motors, integrated with miniature bearing assemblies, motor mounts, flexures and spring preloads. Drive electronics, integrated into the miniature handheld instrument, dynamically adjust drive parameters to optimize performance of each motor under varying conditions including changing temperature and side loads.

The handheld manipulator senses its own motion, selectively filters out erroneous motion such as hand tremor, and produces stabilized motion at the tool tip via active error compensation. The ergonomic tool is 23 mm in diameter and tolerates a side load up to 0.25 N while tracking a sinusoidal target trajectory with less than 20-μm error. Physiological hand tremor is reduced by about 90% in a pointing task, and error less than 25 μm is achieved in handheld circle tracing. Compared to tele-operated robotic surgical tools, the handheld micromanipulator retains the surgeon’s direct manual control of gross positioning and preserves the natural feel of manual operation.

Research reported in this publication was supported by the National Eye Institute of the National Institutes of Health under Award #R43EY026304. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health. 

Get the paper from IEEE or contact New Scale for more information about precision micro motion system development and integration.

Technical Paper

Developing engineering model Cobra fiber positioners for the Subaru Telescope’s prime focus spectrometer


Presented at SPIE Astronomical Telescopes + Instrumentation, Montreal, June 2014
by C. Fisher, C. Morantz, D. Braun, M. Seiffert, H. Aghazarian, E. Partos, M. King, L. Hovland, M. Schwochert, J. Kaluzny, C. Capocasale, A. Houck and J. Gross (Jet Propulsion Laboratory/California Institute of Technology); D. Reiley, P. Mao, R. Riddle and K. Bui (Caltech Optical Observatories);  D. Henderson, T. Haran, R. Culhane, D. Piazza and E. Walkama (New Scale Technologies)

The Cobra fiber positioner is being developed by the California Institute of Technology (CIT) and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) for the Prime Focus Spectrograph (PFS) instrument that will be installed at the Subaru Telescope on Mauna Kea, Hawaii. PFS is a fiber fed multi-object spectrometer that uses an array of Cobra fiber positioners to rapidly reconfigure 2394 optical fibers at the prime focus of the Subaru Telescope that are capable of positioning a fiber to within 5μm of a specified target location. A single Cobra fiber positioner measures 7.7mm in diameter and is 115mm tall. The Cobra fiber positioner uses two piezo-electric rotary motors to move a fiber optic anywhere in a 9.5mm diameter patrol area.

In preparation for full-scale production of 2550 Cobra positioners an Engineering Model (EM) version was developed, built and tested to validate the design, reduce manufacturing costs, and improve system reliability. The EM leveraged the previously developed prototype versions of the Cobra fiber positioner. The requirements, design, assembly techniques, development testing, design qualification and performance evaluation of EM Cobra fiber positioners are described here. Also discussed is the use of the EM build and test campaign to validate the plans for full-scale production of 2550 Cobra fiber positioners scheduled to begin in late-2014 [at New Scale Technologies].

This material is based upon work supported by the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan under Award No.037151, the University of Japan, the John Robinson Endowment and the California Institute of Technology.

Get the paper from SPIE or email New Scale for more information.

Video / broadcast news

Photos from half a mile away? Duke’s supercamera makes it possible

WNCN TV, Durham NC
Aired November 2013

This “What’s Next” segment presents a camera that “blows away your smart phone or your long-lens fisheye… and could change the way we view photography.” The  250-megapixel qG camera from Duke University and Aqueti can capture a panoramic shot from a half a mile away, which can be zoomed 10 to 20 times to reveal “crystal clear” details without pixilation.

The camera integrates 34 micro-cameras, each focused by a custom New Scale M3-L smart module. See Aqueti’s Scott McCain assemble the camera and show off the stunning results.

Watch the video on (3:28 mins, autoplays)


Bringing Image-Guided Laser Surgery to Endoscopy

Published by MDT magazine (Medical Design Technology)
October 2013
by David Henderson

In an effort to advance the benefits that lasers can offer to surgeons, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center partnered with motor and motion control specialist New Scale Technologies to fabricate an endoscopic laser scalpel that incorporates a remote-controlled beam steering device right in the endoscope head. This article highlights the efforts of that collaboration.

Read the article at or get the PDF (919kb)


Smart electronics reduce energy consumption and improve performance of piezoelectric ultrasonic motors

Published by ECN magazine
May 2013
by David Henderson

Advances in piezo motor driver electronics include efficient full-bridge switching, integrated frequency generation and tracking, speed control and digital control. These combine to reduce system power by approximately 40% while maintaining output power (motor speed), maintaining optimal motor performance despite manufacturing variations and temperature changes, and producing smoother, quieter motion.

Read the article

Technical Paper

Stationary-fiber rotary probe with unobstructed 360°
view for optical coherence tomography

Optics Letters – Vol. 36, No. 22 – Nov. 15, 2011
by Shoude Chang, Erroll Murdock, Youxin Mao, Costel Flueraru and John Disano, Inst. for Microstructural Sciences, Nat’l Research Council Canada

A side-scanning fiber probe is a critical component for optical coherence tomography in medical imaging and diagnosis. The authors propose and fabricate an on-axis rotating probe that performs in situ, circumferential scanning that is shadow-free (not susceptible to shadow effects caused by the motor’s wires). They incorporated a miniature SQUIGGLE motor, with a bored-out shaft for the optical fiber, at the distal end of the probe to achieve a more stable and uniform circumferential scan, free from wire-shadow interference effects. More importantly, this design avoids the insertion losses introduced by optical coupling components and the multitude of optical interfaces, which is very important for sensing weak signals backscattered from structures deep in the tissue.

Visit OSA to download the paper (free to Optics Letters subscribers, otherwise $15 OSA members / $35 non-members).


Cobra Fiber-Optic Positioner Upgrade

Published by Photonics Tech Briefs
March 2013

Advances in the rotary piezo fiber positioner system developed with NASA JPL were published in Photonics Tech Briefs. In addition to astronomy applications, the journal reports, “This technology could be used for applications requiring precise location of a small object within a small circular area, such as in medical lasers.” For more details and to download the technical papers, see Cobra – a Two-Degree of Freedom Fiber Optic Positioning Mechanism.

Technical Paper

Endoscopic Laser Scalpel for Head and Neck Cancer Surgery

Presented at SPIE Photonics West 2012
by Snehal Patel, Milind Rajadhyaksha, Stefan Kirov, Yongbiao Li and Ricardo Toledo-Crow, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC)

The principal obstacle to using lasers in minimally invasive surgery has been a lack of effective control instruments to manipulate the laser in the body cavity and accurately deliver it to the targeted tissue.

To overcome this limitation, a team at MSKCC designed and built an endoscopic laser system that incorporates a miniature dual-wedge beam steering device, a video camera, and a control system for remote and /or robotic operation. The dual-wedge Risley device incorporates a custom piezoelectric rotary positioning system from New Scale Technologies and offers the smallest profile possible for endoscopic use.

Learn more

Technical Paper

Micro-Scale Smart Actuator Modules for Imaging Systems

Presented at Actuator 2012
by David Henderson, New Scale Technologies

Micro-scale smart actuator modules have recently been commercialized for imaging systems. These products provide a complete motion solution that requires only battery power (3.3 VDC) and high-level digital commands (I2C or SPI) to produce precise step and velocity control. Extreme miniaturization is achieved using the latest innovations in piezo motors, drive electronics, position sensors, and microprocessors with embedded firmware. One “killer application” for micro motion is imaging and this market is projected to grow from 1.7 billion image capture devices in 2011 to 2.8 billion in 2015.

New Scale Technologies, Inc. has commercialized the UTAF® (Ultra Thin Auto Focus) and M3-F (Micro Mechatronics Module) systems for micro imaging applications. The UTAF module is used in mobile phone cameras with movement less than 300 micrometers and lens mass less than 0.5 grams. The M3-F module is used for non-consumer applications such as iris imaging, facial recognition and medical devices with movement greater than 1.5 millimeters and lens mass up to 5 grams. These new smart actuators enable “plug and play” integration, rapid prototyping and faster times to market.

Download the paper


FOCUS: Industrial strength lens motion with smart phone sensibilities

Published by Electronic Products
May 2012
By Dave Henderson, New Scale Technologies

Smart phone cameras are fast becoming “the only camera you need” for consumer photo and video. It’s not just about megapixels: Much of the quality improvement stems from advanced optics and tiny new motion systems for precision autofocus.

It’s no surprise that engineers want to put tiny smart phone cameras in the non-consumer products they’re designing. Unfortunately, even the most impressive phone cameras are not sufficient for most non-consumer applications.

However, technology developed for today’s smart phone cameras is being extended for use in non-consumer applications. In this article we discuss how and why phone camera focus systems evolved from voice coil motors to piezo motion systems, and what that means for designers of embedded imaging systems for non-consumer applications.

Read the article
Download the PDF


Adding automated focus to biometric, medical and industrial micro cameras

October 2011
By Dave Henderson and Dan Viggiano III, New Scale Technologies

We all are familiar with the consumer digital cameras that are in our pockets, mobile phones and personal computers. Thanks to incredible advances in microelectronics, CMOS image sensors and optics, most of us have a very good camera within reach most of the time.

Now these tiny cameras are inspiring product engineers in “non-consumer” applications—such as biometric identification, medical and diagnostic devices, and machine vision—to make even greater products. In fact, markets for these new applications are projected to grow faster than consumer camera markets over the next few years.

In this article we discuss sensor and lens requirements, compare the M3-F focus module to voice coil motors and stepper motors, and talk about image processing, digital signal processing and other system considerations.

Read the article


Mechatronics Meets Miniaturization

published in Design World
October 11, 2010
By Dave Henderson and Lisa Schaertl, New Scale Technologies

Designing with piezoelectric (piezo) motors requires a different mindset than that used with traditional servo or stepper motors. The traditional approach of specifying the motor and then buying or designing the control system works for servo and stepper motors because there is a vast body of “cookbook motor” control solutions and experienced drive teams available for traditional motor implementation. This is not the case for piezo motors, which require special drive circuits to create and maintain ultrasonic resonant vibrations in the motor.

In addition, piezo motors are most effective when the mechanics, electronics, control system, software – and even the motor design itself – are developed in concert. In this way the piezoelectric ceramics, the silicon, and the system can be tuned to work together for optimal performance. It is a perfect illustration of the benefits of a mechatronic design process.

Here’s what happened in a multi-year collaboration among engineers and scientists at New Scale Technologies, austriamicrosystems (now ams) and TDK-EPC to simultaneously develop the motor, mechanics, electronics and control systems for the M3 micro-mechatronics module.  Read the full article (330Kb PDF)

Since 2006, SQUIGGLE piezo motor systems have shrunk in size from (at right) a 12 mm diameter motor with 51 x 76 x 14 mm drive card, to (at left) a 2 x 2 x 5 mm motor with a flip-chip drive ASIC (shown on the dime). This enabled the creation of integrated micro-mechatronics modules such as the M3-L module (center) – complete closed-loop motion systems in housings of less than 7 x 12 x 30 mm

Technical Paper

Continuous Auto Focus for Next Generation Phone Cameras

Presented at Actuator 2010
by David Henderson, Qin Xu and Daniele Piazza, New Scale Technologies

Today nearly two billion mobile phones have digital cameras and an additional 800 million cameras are shipped each year. Recent emphasis on “smart phones” has created the need for faster focus for more rapid picture taking and continuous auto focus (CAF) for clearer video capture. The UTAF™ actuator module uses a unique piezoelectric ultrasonic motor and module design to achieve all CAF requirements. “Ultra Thin Auto Focus” technology integrates: a piezo motor, drive IC, digital Hall position sensor IC, low-friction preload mechanism, precise lens guide, and advanced Smart Step™ algorithm. These critical CAF actuator module specifications are achieved: size less than 8.5 X 8.5 X 4 mm, lens movement from close-up (macro) to distant (infinity) of 300 micron, 30 micron steps in less than 10 msec, acoustic noise less than 35 dBA, power less than 10 mW and lens tilt less than 0.1 degree.

Download the paper


Low Power Piezo Motion: Reduced-voltage piezo motor breakthrough creates options for medical devices

published in Design News
May 2010
By Al Presher, contributing editor

Dramatic reductions in voltage and power requirements are making tiny piezo motors and drive systems an interesting option for portable, low-power medical devices. By eliminating the need for the high voltage normally associated with piezo systems, a new piezo motor design from New Scale Technologies enables miniature motion systems that operate on a single 3-V battery without using voltage boost circuits.

“Normally piezo technology requires input of 40 volts or more, which is a concern especially in medical applications,” says Ralph Weber, product manager for New Scale. Even though their previous systems and ASIC could run on a 3.3-V input, Weber says that the boost circuits to produce the higher input voltage required by all piezoelectric motors can scare designers.  Continue reading article at Design News.


Hula-Hoop im Nanometerbereich
Winziger Piezo-Motor sorgt für scharfe Bilder

published in Sensor Magazin
4 November 2009
By Josef Janisch, austriamicrosystems

Kaum eine technische Revolution hat in so kurzer Zeit unser Verhalten verändert wie die Einführung der digitalen Fotografie. Fast über Nacht sind die »klassischen« Rollfilm-Fotoapparate, die über Jahrzehnte hinweg Eindrücke aus unserem Leben festhielten, aus den Regalen der Geschäfte verschwunden und durch digitale Kameras ersetzt worden. Download the PDF


Mechatronics in miniature

published in
August 2009
By Lisa Schaertl, New Scale Technologies

New motor and sensor technologies enable mechatronics in miniature. Closed-loop electromechanical motion systems, based on piezoelectric micro motors, measure just a few millimeters in size. They meet the need for small size, low power use, precision and robustness for applications from consumer electronics to industrial locks to medical devices.


Piezo motor based medical devices

from Medical Design Technology
April 2009
By Ralph Weber, New Scale Technologies

Piezo motor technology is still in its relatively early stages of application development, but is already demonstrating the tremendous value and functionality it offers in medical devices. These motors are very small, yet enable long-range and precise motion. This article reviews several solutions in which piezo motor technology is enhancing the capabilities of medical devices.

We include a discussion of micro- and nano-fluidic pumps, implantable devices and surgical robots. Continue at Medical Design Technology online.

Technical Paper

Cobra – a Two-Degree of Freedom Fiber Optic Positioning
Mechanism (incorporating two rotary piezo micro motors)

Presented at the 2009 IEEE Aerospace Conference 2009, paper #1185
by C. Fisher, D. Braun and J. Kaluzny of Jet Propulsion Laboratories (JPL) – California Institute of Technology and T. Haran of New Scale Technologies

The Wide-Field Multi Object Spectrometer (WFMOS) is a ground based astronomical instrument that is scheduled to be commissioned on the Subaru Telescope on Mauna Kea, Hawaii in 2013. An array of fiber positioners feed light from a 1.5 degree field of the sky to a visible spectrometer for red shift observations of 2400 cosmological targets simultaneously. The light is transferred to the spectrograph using 2400 f/2.4 fibers with 107μm cores. This enables, for the first time, large scale Galactic Archeology and Dark Energy surveys to help unlock the secrets of the universe.

The key enabler of this new capability is an array of 2400 fiber positioners made from very small custom rotary piezoelectric motors developed specifically for this purpose by New Scale Technologies.

Read more about NASA JPL’s Cobra fiber positioner and New Scale’s rotary piezo motors


Power Packed
Piezoelectric motors: big power, small package

from  MICROmanufacturing Magazine
Winter 2008
By Bill Kennedy, Contributing Editor

An excellent introduction to piezoelectric motors. This article presents a background explanation of the piezoelectric effect and its use in several different motor designs, including New Scale’s direct linear drive SQUIGGLE motor as well as MicroMo’s Piezo Wave and Piezo Legs configurations.

Download the full article (978 Kb PDF)

Technical Paper

A Mobile Robot Driven by Miniature Onboard Motors for Cardiac Intervention

Presented at the 34th Annual Northeast Bioengineering Conference. 2008; 9-10.
by P. Allen, N. Patronik and C. Riviere of the The Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon University, and M. Zenati of the Division of Cardiac Surgery at the University of Pittsburgh

This paper describes the development and construction of a mobile robot driven by miniature ultrasonic piezoelectric motors (SQUIGGLE motors) for minimally invasive cardiac therapy. The robot design extends upon previous prototypes of HeartLander miniature mobile robot that moves in an inchworm-like fashion.

The HeartLander OMNI (Onboard Motor Navigational Instrument) has been developed to reduce tether stiffness by utilizing small onboard motors (SQUIGGLE motors), which would result in more efficient turning capability by eliminating the drive-wire mechanism from the tether of the robot. The development of the robot allows for increased turning capability and higher traction during locomotion, and represents the first step in designing a wireless mobile robot for cardiac therapy.

The robotic design was developed as a proof of concept to demonstrate mobility on the cardiac surface. Construction of the system included motor selection, body design, and development of the control system. This paper presents the design of the robotic platform and preliminary testing results in vitro.

Download the paper “Mobile Robot Driven by Miniature Onboard [SQUIGGLE] Motors for Cardiac Intervention.” (74Kb PDF)

Technical Paper

Autonomous Positioning System for Implantable Hearing Aids Using Piezo Motors

Presented at Actuator 2008, Bremen, Germany, June 2008
by D. Kaltenbacher and A. Schäfer, Fraunhofer Institut für Produktionstechnik und Automatisierung (IPA) and J. Rodriguez Jorge, Universitätsklinikum Tübingen

Researchers in Germany are investigating improved implantable hearing aids using a SQUIGGLE motor. Implantable hearing aids transmit sound waves mechanically to the ossicular chain using an electromechancial transducer, resulting in superior amplification and sound quality compared to classical hearing aids.

A key performance parameter is the applied initial load of the transducer towards the ossicular chain. Currently this load is adjusted by the surgeon during implantation using a micrometer screw, with limited accuracy due to the screw’s relatively large linear motion. Furthermore, no readjustment after the surgery is possible. Therefore hearing aid performance decreases as the bone tissue grows, causing the initial load between transducer and ossicular chain to change.

The researchers describe an active positioning system that would allow the adjustment of the transducer in situ at any given time, preserving optimal performance. The system technical requirements were investigated and summarized in this paper.

Visit the Actuator conference website to purchase the 2008 proceedings.

Technical Paper

Piezo Motor for Ultra-Thin Auto Focus Cameras

Presented at Actuator 2008, Bremen, Germany, June 2008
By David Henderson, Qin Xu and Danielle Piazza
New Scale Technologies

In 2008, approximately 1.2 billion mobile phone handsets will be manufactured. Of these, more than 200 million will include cameras with a micro actuator for automatic focus (AF). More than 10 million will also incorporate optical zoom (OZ) combined with AF. To keep pace with shrinking camera dimensions and increasing mega pixels, the motors must become smaller and yet still achieve micrometer precision.

In 2003 New Scale developed the SQUIGGLE® motor, which meets the longer stroke requirements for AF and OZ cameras. This motor is 50 percent smaller than comparable piezo motors while achieving 10 times higher force and resolution.

In 2007-2008 New Scale developed a new patent-pending ultrasonic piezo motor that meets the challenges of Ultra-Thin Auto Focus (UTAF) cameras. The UTAF motor saves space and height by combining the motor with the linear guide mechanism and enables overall camera thickness less than 5 mm.

This paper describes the use of the SQUIGGLE motor in AFOZ modules, and presents the company’s newer UTAF motor for ultra-thin autofocus cameras.  Email us to request a copy.


Design miniaturisierter Produkte mit piezoelektrischen Motoren

(Design smaller products with piezoelectric motors)

By Lisa Schaertl and Michael Dreher
Elektronik Magazine – November 2007

The combination of small size, low power use and high precision makes the SQUIGGLE motor interesting for applications including mobile phone cameras, electronic locks and latches, medical devices such as endoscope optics and drug pumps, and microfluidic devices including fuel cells and lab-on-a-chip devices.

This article describes the operating principle, electrical integration, and applications of SQUIGGLE motors. Contact us to request a copy (in German).

Technical Paper

Novel Piezo Motor Enables Positive Displacement Microfluidic Pump

Presented at NSTI Nanotech, Santa Clara, CA, May 2007
By David Henderson
New Scale Technologies

Download the paper “Positive Displacement Microfluidic Pump” (830KB PDF)
We present the world’s smallest linear motor and its use in tiny syringe and reciprocating piston pumps for microfluidic applications. SQUIGGLE® motors create direct displacement pumps that achieve nanoliter precision in a pump assembly the size of a pen cap.

In this design, linear motion directly moves a piston or bellows. The output pressure and flow are easily scaled by adjusting the piston diameter. A reference pump design is presented that achieves output pressure of 255 kPa, flow of 0.24 ml per minute at an oscillation frequency of 0.8 Hz and flow precision of 0.8 nl. In contrast, commercial oscillating membrane pumps are much larger, generate a 20 Hz or higher pulse frequency and produce much lower output pressure and accuracy.

SQUIGGLE motor pumps can miniaturize a variety of instruments including lab-on-a-chip systems, drug delivery devices, micro fuel cells, cooled computer chips, lubrication systems, spacecraft thrusters and liquid optics.

SQUIGGLE motor applications for whole body small animal MRI

By Steven G. Turowski, Michael Loecher, Mukund Seshadri and Richard Mazurchuk
Roswell Park Cancer Institute, Buffalo, NY

Read the Roswell Park paper about SQUIGGLE motors and MRI

Traditional electromagnetic motors contain ferrous metal and represent a safety hazard in areas containing strong magnetic fields. They also generate magnetic and RF fields during operation that can damage hardware damage and cause undesirable image artifacts. In addition, motor operation may be influenced by static and gradient magnetic fields used during MRI data acquisition, causing the motor to function unpredictably or to be permanently damaged.

To overcome these problems, our laboratory investigated the potential utility of the piezoelectric SQUIGGLE motor in small animal imaging-related applications, including remote administration of contrast agents to animals and dynamic repositioning of the animals within the MR scanner.

The SQUIGGLE motor allowed precise delivery of low doses of the MRI contrast media in real time during data acquisition.  Based on our work to date, piezoelectric motors such as the SQUIGGLE motor hold great promise for use in MRI environments and to improve the efficiency and quality of preclinical MRI data acquisitions.


Piezoelectric motors move miniaturization forward

Electronic Products Magazine
October 2006
By David Henderson and Lisa Schaertl, New Scale Technologies

Download the article “Piezo Motors Move Miniaturization Forward” (332Kb PDF)

Ultrasonic piezoelectric motors have been around for more than 30 years. Recent innovations have improved the motors’ robustness and manufacturability, in ever smaller sizes. Now these tiny ceramic motors have caught the attention of consumer product designers, as a way to pack more features into tinier products.

This article compares piezo motors to other motor technologies for phone cameras, including miniature electromagnetic motors, voice coil actuators, liquid lenses, and piezo bimorph actuators. It then compares two types of piezo motors that have been commercialized for phone camera applications

Technical Paper

Design considerations for a time-resolved tomographic diagnostic at DARHT

from Proceedings of SPIE — Volume 6289 
Sep. 5, 2006
By Morris I. Kaufman, Daniel Frayer, Wendi Dreesen, Douglas Johnson, Alfred Meidinger; NSTec, Los Alamos Operations (Bechtel Nevada)

A SQUIGGLE motor is used to remotely control the aperture of an instrument that has been developed to acquire time-resolved tomographic data from the electron beam at the DARHT [Dual-Axis Radiographic Hydrodynamic Test] facility at Los Alamos National Laboratory. Installation of this instrument into the facility requires automation of both the optomechanical adjustments and calibration of the instrument in a constrained space.

The instrument will be located inside a sealed (non-ventilated) steel shed without cooling or heating controls. Consequently, the temperature may vary between –10º to 140ºF. Water may be present during certain experiments, so the system may operate near the dew point. During experiments the shed has high levels of radiation and electro-magnetic interference (EMI). The SQUIGGLE motor has proven to operate successfully under these harsh conditions.

Technical Paper

Simple ceramic motors … inspiring smaller products

Presented at Actuator 2006, Bremen, Germany, June 2006
By David Henderson

Download the paper: “Simple Ceramic Motors … Inspiring Smaller Products” (148 KB PDF)

A new linear piezoelectric motor is presented called the SQUIGGLE® motor. Ultrasonic vibrations in a threaded nut directly rotate and translate a threaded screw. The newest model is only 1.55 X 1.55 mm square and 6 mm long and uses less than 0.1 Watt to produce 20 grams of force at 5 mm per second. High linear force, power, precision and low cost make SQUIGGLE motors ideal for emerging micro motion applications including: mobile phone cameras, micro fluidic devices, implantable drug pumps, deformable mirrors for adaptive optics, and basic laboratory research including MRI, vacuum and cryogenics.


Micro moves

from Machine Design Magazine
January 12, 2006
By David A. Henderson, New Scale Technologies

Motors that can precisely position loads with micrometer-scale accuracy are now inexpensive enough for consumer electronics. Applications include auto focus and optical zoom modules for mobile phone cameras, and implantable and wearable medical devices that are compatible with MRI systems. This article describes the motor operation in detail.


Piezo ceramic motors improve phone cameras

By David A. Henderson, New Scale Technologies
Download article: Piezo ceramic motors improve phone cameras (250 KB PDF)

The market for mobile phone cameras has exploded in the past few years. More than 300 million mobile phone cameras will be produced in 2005, according to Future Image’s 2005 Mobile Imaging Report. By the year 2007, that number is expected to grow to more than 500 million.

Today, nearly all mobile phone cameras have fixed optics, and produce mediocre pictures. But the industry is racing to improve image quality. Motorized auto focus (AF) and optical zoom (OZ) are proven solutions for making better pictures.  It is projected that by the year 2007, 20% of phone cameras will include AF and OZ features.

New miniature motor technology is needed to achieve this ambitious growth. Piezoelectric ultrasonic motors offer a novel alternative to electromechanical motors for mobile phone cameras and other miniature product applications.

Recommended Reading on Piezoelectric Ultrasonic Motors

Ultrasonic Motors, Technologies and Applications

By Chunsheng Zhao (Nanjing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics)

A comprehensive tutorial on ultrasonic motors for practicing engineers, researchers and graduate students. “Ultrasonic Motors: Technologies and Applications” describes the operating mechanism, electromechanical coupling models, optimization design of structural parameters, testing methods, and drive/control techniques of various ultrasonic motors and their applications.

Published by Science Press Beijing. 2011.

Buy the book online at

Dr. Chunsheng Zhao is a professor at Nanjing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics (NUAA) where he is Director of the Precision Driving Laboratory at NUAA. He is a member of the Chinese Academy of Science, and holds 54 patents in China and published more than 400 papers in the field of piezoelectric ultrasonic motors.


By Kenji Uchino (Pennsylvania State University) and Jayne R. Giniewicz (Indiana University of Pennsylvania)

From Book News: A reference or text for graduate students and industrial engineers working in electronic materials, control system engineering, optical communications, precision machinery, and robotics. Topics include recent developments in micropositioning technology; displacement transducer, motor, and ultrasonic motor applications; piezoelectric and electrorestrictive phenomena; and technological and economic impact of micromechatronics.

Published by Marcel Dekker, Inc. 2003.
Buy the book online at or at

Kenji Uchino is director of the International Center for Actuators and Transducers (ICAT) at the Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA.

An Introduction to Ultrasonic Motors

By Toshiiku Sashida (Shinsei Industries, Japan) and Takashi Kenjo (University of Industrial Technology, Kanagawa, Japan.

Published by Oxford University Press 1994.
Buy the book online from the Oxford University Press