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Fiber positioners

New Scale Technologies

New Scale Technologies, Inc. has moved its miniature Cobra fiber positioners into full production, manufacturing 200 units per month for the Subaru Telescope Prime Focus Spectrograph (PFS).  New Scale will deliver a total of 2,550 Cobra positioners to the California Institute of Technology by June 2017.

The Cobra fiber positioner is a custom, two-stage rotary piezoelectric motor system with integrated drive electronics. New Scale is offering appointment-only demos of the Cobra system at SPIE Astronomical Telescopes + Instrumentation, 26 June - 1 July 2016, in Edinburgh, UK.

Deployed in a close-packed array, the Cobra positioners rapidly configure an array of fibers in the prime focus of the telescope to a precision of 5 µm. They enable the Subaru Telescope to conduct a variety of targeted surveys for studies of dark energy, galaxy evolution, and galactic archaeology.

This important production milestone was reached after eight years of research and development, resulting in:

  • Unique and patented rotary piezoelectric motor technology uniquely suited to the PFS application with reduced operating voltage (10 volts) and longer-life (> 400K cycles).
  • Patented drive electronics that are sufficiently small and low power to be integrated in the close-packed Cobra arrays.
  • A validated Cobra system design that meets the science requirement of the PFS including:

   o 8 mm actuator array spacing with 9.5 mm diameter fiber patrol area.
   o 5 µm fiber positioning with < 0.3 degree fiber tilt and < 25 µm fiber defocus.
   o Ability to robustly hold position without power and zero backlash.
   o Ability to efficiently converge to target positions.

  • A global supply chain for the 32 unique Cobra components.
  • Assembly tools, fixtures and processes sufficient for producing 200 Cobra positioners per month.
  • Quality assurance and 100% in-line testing methods that verify all critical Cobra specifications.
  • A highly trained and experienced micro-mechatronic manufacturing staff.