Prof. Leang and collaborators from industry (Molecular Vista, Inc. (MVI)) and Villanova University (Prof. Garrett Clayton) received a new NSF grant ($305,912) from Sensors, Dynamics, & Control program to study new design and control system approaches for the development of advanced nanopositioning systems for nanoscale science and engineering applications.  More specifically, the new 3-year NSF collaborative Grant Opportunities for Academic Liaison with Industry (GOALI) research project focuses on new design and control paradigms for dual-stage nanopositioners that consider both spatial and temporal constraints. Emerging dual-stage nanopositioners have the unique ability to achieve both long-range and high-speed operation. However, typical control strategies rely on frequency-based information to split the control effort between the two actuators, which results in some precision positioning trajectories being unachievable. Therefore, dual-stage nanopositioners cannot achieve high positioning resolution when range and frequency are not inversely correlated. To advance the state-of-the-art, a control-centered design approach will be taken to establish the guidelines and requirements for creating high-performance dual-stage nanopositioners. To enhance the understanding and control system design process, detailed input-output models that capture the dynamics of the system (nonlinear and dynamic effects) and sensor characteristics will be obtained. An innovative control algorithm which systematically considers both spatial and temporal information will be developed to effectively allocate the control input.

The research outcomes will lead to improvement in the performance of nanotechnologies, such as video-rate scanning probe microscopy, desktop nano-rapid prototyping and nanomanufacturing systems, precision advanced additive manufacturing systems, and micro rapid inspection and repair systems. The research collaboration and the educational activities will expose graduate and undergraduate engineering students, K-12 students, and the wider community to cutting-edge research and findings in control, nanotechnology, and high-impact industry applications.