Mechatronics in historic perspective
The still relatively young field of mechatronics has gone through a major development over the past few decades. As a result of a synergistic combination of precision mechanical engineering, electronic control, and system thinking, new concepts and architectures have been devised for machines and instruments and consumer electronics. In recent years, due to increasing demands, we have seen an increasing need for further integration of several adjacent fields, like physics, optics, heat and flow, tribology, materials science, mathematics and software. Complexity has shifted from machine to component level. Driven by, among others, Moore’s Law, more ‘global’, mechatronic solutions are required these days to enable better performance at reduced cost.
Sound mechanics as starting point
Repeatability and reproducibility are essential for achieving demanding machine performance without frequent calibration. To achieve predictable dynamic and thermal behavior under changing and partially unknown loads, which act upon (sub)systems of precision machines and instruments, the common understanding among precision engineers is to use sound mechanics is the starting point. Design for repeatability and reproducibility can be summarized in so-called design principles, primarily intended to deal with uncertainties and variations in internal and external loads (see also DPPM Cases - DSPE).
Hardware design and analysis for modern precision mechatronic systems
Since the 1980s, the developments in optical storage, and later on semiconductor industry, have significantly contributed to the development of mechatronics in the Netherlands, especially within Philips and spin-offs, such as FEI and ASML. Particularly for optical, non-contact processes, such as in CD and DVD players, and inspection and lithography systems, it was highly preferred to mechanically 'isolate' the process from the outside world. This was enabled by an isolated architecture with high active 'virtual' stiffness based on force actuators and high bandwidth servo control. Thorough understanding of superposition of mode shapes and optimal actuator and sensor placement to ‘shape’ the dynamic transfer function became key to robust controller design became. Damping solutions, which were abandoned for a long time in view of the risk of position uncertainty due to hysteresis, were recently added comprehensively to realize suppression of amplification at resonances.
Mechatronic Systems Design at part of CST
In strong collaboration with industry, the Mechatronic Systems Design group as part of the CST section is exploring new concepts and architectures for boosting performance in future systems, both in terms of accuracy and productivity. Examples of recent projects are the design and development, incl. multi-physical analyses of a superconducting planar motor, active water tables and deformable mirrors for lithography application, a piezo-electric wafer stage for E-beam inspection, robotic systems for interventional X-ray radiology, a double crystal monochromator for synchrotron beam line instrumentation, and an active vibration isolation system for a gravitational wave observatory.
For more information on MSc and PhD projects and open positions, or industrial and academic collaboration, please contact prof.dr.ir. J.P.M.B. (Hans) Vermeulen, or ir. F.B. (Frank) Sperling