In this paper, a contactless linear slider for precision positioning able to operate in cryogenic environments is presented. The device, based on superconducting magnetic levitation, does not present contact between the slider (composed of a permanent magnet) and the guideline (made of high-temperature superconducting disks) of the mechanism, thereby avoiding any tribological problems. Moreover, the slider is self-stable and the superconductors provide inherent guidance to the permanent magnet in the sliding DoF due to the high translational symmetry of the magnetic field that leads to low power consumption. A sub-micrometre resolution and a symmetric stroke over 9 mm have been demonstrated at cryogenic temperatures. In addition, a set of design rules for this kind of mechanism has been proposed and experimentally validated. These rules demonstrate that the performance of the device can be tuned just by modifying some geometrical parameters of the mechanism. In this way, the sensitivity and stiffness, resolution, angular run outs and power consumption can be adjusted for different applications and requirements.
cryogenic mechanism; superconducting magnetic levitation; self-stability; high precision positioning; mechanical design