(May 26th 2023, Arvada, CO, USA) The demand for nanometer-capable stages is increasing exponentially as the trend to achieve greater precision and control in metrology and Nano Metrology applications continues.

With the advent of cutting-edge sensor technologies, measurement capabilities have become increasingly sensitive, enabling the detection and characterization of minute features and deviations in samples. To leverage the full potential of these advanced sensors, it is essential to have motion control stages that can move the samples or sensors with extreme precision and stability.

The ability to traverse several hundred millimeters while maintaining nanometer-level accuracy opens up new possibilities for research, quality control, and manufacturing processes that require intricate measurements and fine adjustments. As a result, the development of nanometer-capable stages has become crucial to meet the demands of modern metrology and unlock further advancements in various industries.

Any inaccuracies or errors in the motion can significantly affect the measurement results. Even minor deviations or vibrations during the movement of the sensors can introduce unwanted noise and artifacts, compromising the overall accuracy of the measurements.

“To overcome this challenge, motion systems must be engineered with exceptional precision and stability. They need to be capable of achieving sub-nanometer resolution and maintaining tight tolerances throughout the entire range of motion. By surpassing the accuracy of the sensors, these high-precision motion systems ensure that the measurements obtained are not limited or compromised by the motion itself, enabling researchers and industries to achieve the highest level of measurement accuracy possible,” explains ALIO Industries President Bill Hennessey

For such applications, ALIO provides its vertical Z-stages and monolithic XY bases. ALIO’s Z-stages stands out with their innovative design, offering a vertical solution that is completely linear-based and delivers performance comparable to air-bearing systems.

Hennessey continues, “What sets ALIO’s Z-stage apart is its exceptional precision, surpassing traditional Z-wedge solutions by an order of magnitude. This means that our Z-stage can achieve unparalleled levels of accuracy and stability in vertical positioning applications.”

By eliminating the drawbacks associated with traditional Z-wedge mechanisms, such as non-linearity and mechanical hysteresis, ALIO’s unique design ensures consistent and reliable vertical movement with sub-nanometer resolution, opening up new possibilities for nano-metrology applications and nanotechnology, semiconductor manufacturing, and optics manufacturing, enabling OEMs to achieve levels of performance that were previously unattainable with conventional solutions.

Using a vertical Z-stage on a monolithic XY base allows the customer’s payload to be mounted directly on the top of the stage in-line with the motor, encoder, bearings, and counterbalance, thus minimizing overhanging brackets and greatly reducing potential Abbé errors (optical distortions that occur due to the variation in focal lengths for different wavelengths of light, resulting in color fringing and reduced image sharpness).

ALIO’s XY monolithic stages introduce previously unheard-of straightness and flatness of travel with nanometer precision to reduce measurement uncertainty for metrology OEMs, ensuring more precise and reliable measurement data, which is crucial for quality control, research, and next generation manufacturing processes.

(May 9th 2023, Arvada, CO, USA) ALIO Industries recognizes the challenges associated with testing micro-LED chips, and maintains that precision stages can be a crucial tool in the testing process as they provide the precise positioning and motion control necessary to achieve accuracy and repeatability.

A micro-LED chip is a type of light-emitting diode that is significantly smaller than traditional LEDs, and can be used in a variety of applications, including displays, lighting, and sensing.

One of the main advantages of micro-LEDs is their high brightness and efficiency. They can emit a lot of light using a relatively small amount of power, which makes them energy-efficient and long-lasting. Additionally, micro-LEDs can be used to create highly customizable displays with excellent color accuracy and contrast.

However, micro-LED technology is still relatively new and can be expensive to produce compared to traditional LED technology. Moreover, the testing and manufacturing of micro-LEDs require highly precise equipment and processes due to their small size, which can be a challenge for manufacturers.

Bill Hennessey, President of ALIO picks up the story. “As the micro-LED market gears up for mass production, the focus is shifting to the two major challenges that slow down commercialization — low yield and high cost. Since the chip size of micro LEDs can be as small as a single micron, existing inspection equipment is often inadequate in many respects. Many standard tools simply don’t provide high enough resolution. Moreover, with the smaller pixel sizes, there is also a dramatic rise in the number of pixels that need to be processed during inspection. Test technologies are therefore emerging such as electroluminescence (EL) which is able to identify a great number of defects.”

EL testing is a non-destructive method of testing micro-LEDs and other semiconductor devices, which involves passing a small electrical current through the device, which causes it to emit light. The emitted light can then be measured and analyzed to determine the quality and performance of the device.

EL testing is particularly useful for testing micro-LEDs because it allows for the detection of defects and performance issues that may not be visible using other testing methods. For example, EL testing can detect small defects in the micro-LED structure that may be invisible to the naked eye, such as dislocations or disclinations. Additionally, EL testing can provide information about the uniformity of the device’s emission and the distribution of current within the device.

The EL testing process requires physical probing of the electrical contacts on the micro-LED chips, which must be done with extremely high precision to avoid damage to the devices.

The smaller pixel sizes of micro-LEDs mean that there is a significant increase in the number of pixels that need to be processed during inspection, which makes high-throughput inspection a major challenge. Precision motion control solutions can help to optimize the speed and efficiency of the testing process, enabling rapid and accurate movement of the testing equipment and reducing the time and cost associated with testing large numbers of micro-LED chips.

“ALIO has decades of experience delivering highly repeatable stages with unrivalled point precision®, reaching the “point of interest” in testing within a few nanometers ensuring micro-LED chips don’t get damaged during the EL test,” Hennessey continues. “We offer several motion control technologies that are suitable for testing micro-LEDs. For example, there is the Hybrid Hexapod®, a parallel kinematic motion control system that provides six degrees of freedom with sub-micron precision and repeatability. This technology is ideal for micro-LED testing applications requiring high precision, accuracy, and speed. The Hybrid Hexapod® combines rotary and linear motion to provide a large range of motion and high load capacity, making it suitable for testing large numbers of micro-LEDs simultaneously.”

Also, there are ALIO’s Air Bearing Stages, linear motion control systems that provide frictionless motion with high precision and accuracy. This technology is suitable for micro-LED testing applications that require high-speed and accurate motion control. Air bearing stages are capable of achieving nanometer-level positioning accuracy and repeatability, making them ideal for testing micro-LEDs with high resolution and accuracy.

See the array of motion control options that are available for micro-LED inspection from ALIO HERE, or specific requirements can be plugged into the company’s PRODUCT CONFIGURATOR to see the most suitable motion control solutions.