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April 19th, 2007
'Negative stiffness' used to damp vibrations
Angstrom-level accuracy is needed to stabilize platforms used in applications like microelectromechanical system testing, nanoscale metrology and semiconductor fabrication tools. One company is developing products based on a mechanism called negative stiffness to cancel vibrations.
"The U.S. Air Force couldn't find a place quiet enough to test their next-generation acceleratometers and gyros," said David Platus, CEO of Minus K Technology Inc. (Inglewood, Calif.). "That got me thinking about a negative stiffness mechanism to cancel out vibrations."
Since the 1960s, the best way to isolate precise instruments like atomic-force and scanning-tunneling microscopes along with fab tools from vibration was passive air tables that support weight on a cushion of air. A recent alternative is using active electronic feedback to send cancelling forces that damp out oscillations in springs.
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