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Ensemble QLAB


Design Features

  • Control 1 to 4 axes of piezo nanopositioning stages in open or closed-loop operation
  • Configurable open-loop and closed-loop control in one controller platform
  • High-precision 20-bit sensor resolution for capacitive sensor feedback in closed-loop operation
  • Thermally-stable feedback circuit design
  • Configurable, high-resolution analog input for external feedback sensor integration or command generation
  • Advanced control features such as learning control, harmonic cancellation and command shaping improve tracking error and overall process throughput
  • Touch screen with intuitive menu-driven interface for quick and easy access to system functionality
  • Ethernet and USB 2.0 communication interfaces
  • CE approved and NRTL safety certification; follows the 2011/65/EU RoHS 2 Directive
  • Advanced Windows-based remote diagnostics, tuning, and programming interface software
  • Program in AeroBasic using Aerotech`s IDE or create custom remote interfaces with Microsoft .NET including C#, VB.NET, C++/CLI, LabVIEW, MATLAB, EPICS, or TANGO


The Ensemble QLAB is a high-performance nanopositioning piezo stage controller for 1 to 4 axes of motion. The flexible controller platform allows user-configurable open-loop and closed-loop operation on a per axis basis. Simple software commands allow the user to switch between open-loop and closed-loop if an axis is configured for closed-loop mode.

Using the processing power of a dual-core 456 MHz, double precision, floating-point DSP, the QLAB provides exceptional performance for a wide variety of applications. The front panel interface allows an operator to quickly execute simple operations such as jogging and moving to fixed positions. For more complex operations, the Ensemble QLAB has onboard memory for storing programs that can be accessed from the front panel or through remote control.

High Resolution and Optional Ultra-Precise Feedback

Using the latest technology and high-resolution A/D and D/A converters, the QLAB enables sub-nanometer positioning resolution at high bandwidths. With the optional integrated capacitance sensor, the QLAB provides low noise performance over the full travel range. An Aerotech-developed linearization method achieves linearity better than 0.01% over the full travel range in closed-loop mode. The QLAB employs a proprietary capacitive sensor feedback circuit results in industry-leading thermal stability and exceptional long-term holding stability.

Precision I/O

In addition to the four optically-isolated digital inputs, two high-speed digital inputs and four optically-isolated digital outputs, the Ensemble QLAB is equipped with four analog inputs and four analog outputs. The analog inputs can be programmatically configured to accept an external feedback sensor or position command. The analog outputs can be used for monitoring position or voltage output.

Advanced Software and Control Features

The Ensemble QLAB uses advanced PID servo loops with advanced feedforward and multiple integrators coupled with eight programmable filters to supply the user with all necessary tools needed to optimize motion performance. Additional software options such as the Dynamic Controls Toolbox and Motion Designer packages make available a host of advanced, yet easy-to-use, tools such as Learning Control, Harmonic Cancellation, Command Shaping, and Cross-Axis Feedforward to improve tracking errors and provide faster step-and-settle times.

Learn more about our controls and software HERE.

Touch Screen Interface

In addition to the front key-panel, the Ensemble QLAB comes equipped with a full color, touch-enabled LCD display. An intuitive tabbed interface provides single-press access to all setup and operation screens.

Powerful Programming Functionality

The Ensemble QLAB is programmed in an easily readable BASIC-like syntax, off-line, with a graphical user interface in Windows, featuring an intuitive Program Editor, Variable Output window, Compiler Output window and Task State monitor. After the programs are developed and tested they can be downloaded and stored on the controller for future use. Alternatively, the user can continue to program and operate the QLAB from a host PC, if so desired.

Multitasking Capability

Up to four programs can run simultaneously on the Ensemble QLAB, allowing for easy partitioning of complex operations. One task could be used for motion while the remaining tasks are used for process control, or the controller could be configured to operate four separate programs controlling four piezo stages.

Software Drivers

The Ensemble QLAB includes full compatibility with both EPICS and TANGO distributed control protocols. In addition, a suite of LabVIEW VIs are available. Precoded LabVIEW VIs, AeroBasic programming functionality, MATLAB library, .NET tools for C#, VB.NET, and C++/CLI or C make the Ensemble even easier to use. See the Ensemble Control home page for detailed information on software capabilities and ordering options.

Automatic Parameter Configuration

Aerotechs piezo stages all include a FlashConfig feature that stores all of the parametric information required to operate the stage. The stage is automatically identified and all operational parameters including axis calibration data are uploaded into the Ensemble QLAB, ensuring safe, accurate and true plug-and-play operation.

Thermal Stability Comparison

Piezo controller design can have a significant effect on thermal stability causing excessive error in precision motion applications. See our Technical Note where we briefly describe some techniques used for controlling thermal effects and compare the thermal stability of our piezo control electronics with a competitive design.


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