Application Note:
ULTRAlign™ Precision Fiber Optic Positioning System

561/562 Series

Newport's ULTRAlign™ Series is designed for today's most demanding fiber optic applications and offers previously unattainable levels of performance. These components incorporate the very latest technology for unparalleled precision including:

  • Ultra stable stainless steel components
  • Huge selection of fiber accessories and positioners
  • Modular rail-mounting system for accessories
  • Manual or motorized actuator options

No other component manufacturer offers you these benefits — which is why no other components can match ULTRAlign's performance. Put ULTRAlign's unparalleled stability and precision to work in your toughest positioning applications.

Maximum Stability and Maximum Convenience

Designed specifically for single-mode fiber positioning, the 561/562 Series meets the most difficult challenges in component engineering. The core of a single-mode fiber can be as small as a few microns in diameter, and successful long-term coupling requires a combination of pinpoint positioning precision and drift-free stability.

Virtually all other positioning systems, in their quest for improved precision and stability, sacrifice ease of use. The ULTRAlign positioner makes no such compromise. In addition to superior positioning performance, the ULTRAlign's unique design also makes it much more versatile, and far easier to use, than any other system.

Modular Design Means More Functionality

With ULTRAlign™ positioners, you can mix and match the entire range of standard ULTRAlign components to create systems for virtually any fiber optic or other application, up to full six-axis control. All mounts and accessories have the same optical height, allowing them to be quickly and easily interchanged. And with simple tools, it takes only minutes to add different micrometers, a tilt mount, or a rotation axis, anytime you like. The modularity of ULTRAlign™ components means much more than just added convenience — it can save you thousands of dollars over the life of your system in unnecessary equipment expenditures.

Definition of Axes

ULTRAlign Arw-Ill-S

Compact Size, Natural Micrometer Placement

You'll notice two things immediately about ULTRAlign™ positioners. The first is that they are extremely compact. For example, the 561D-XYZ positioner, excluding actuators, has a compact 2.5 x 3.5 in. (64 x 89 mm) footprint.

The second is that ULTRAlign™ XYZ stages come in mirror-image right and left-hand versions. This permits all micrometers to be located on the same side, so there's never a need to reach over your work to make adjustments on the opposite side. It also means you have more flexibility in how you lay out your experiment on the table. All adjustments can be made with the hand resting on the table for maximum comfort, added stability, and increased sensitivity.

Super-Stable Stainless Steel Construction

All major structural components of ULTRAlign components, including all brackets and accessory mounts, are constructed of stainless steel. Stainless steel is a far superior material, compared to aluminum, for fiber positioning components and other high stability applications. Stainless steel construction gives ULTRAlign components significantly better overall thermal stability, so that experimental setups maintain their alignment over long periods. For example, typical power fluctuation of a butt coupled single-mode fiber, with a 10 µm spacing, is less than 1.5 dB over a 16 hour period. This is equivalent to 1.5 µm of drift.

Rigid Crossed Roller Bearings Eliminate Flexure Resonances

Spring-flexures have been touted as the best design method for ultra-precise positioning, but they are inherently susceptible to vibrational disturbances. Their low natural frequency makes them extremely sensitive to everyday lab activities - even walking or talking could disturb your experimental measurements. Touching a flexure component or the optical table can cause changes in the stage position, causing large variations in the output signal. This sensitivity can make fine manual adjustment difficult or sometimes impossible and forces the use of more expensive motion control systems.

Crossed roller bearings, when optimally pre-loaded, are not as susceptible to vibration, giving the ULTRAlign™ far greater stability and stiffness than positioners with flexure designs. With the precision and stability made possible by crossed roller bearing construction, in many cases manual micrometers can be substituted for piezoelectric actuators without degrading positioning performance.

Convenient Angular Positioning

Unique design features make angular positioning of ULTRAlign components fast and easy. ULTRAlign's rotation and tilt mounts (which can be added in the field at any time) are fully integrated into the XYZ positioner - combining all six axes of motion in a single positioner.

Even the gimbal positioner for fiber rotation makes angular adjustment less complicated. The ULTRAlign Gimbal Fiber Chuck Positioner pivots around the fiber endface, allowing true independent movement of pitch and yaw axes.

Manual or Electrostrictive Alignment

Newport offers manual, motorized, and electrostrictive drive systems to meet the entire range of positioning requirements. The convenient actuator drive placement, near the table surface, increases your adjustment sensitivity and allows adequate manual adjustments for a large variety of positioning applications. The stage is compatible with a variety of standard Newport Micrometer Heads and adjustment screws. When dynamic adjustment or very high precision (less than 0.1 µm) is required, we recommend our AD Series Electrostrictive Actuators and ESA Series Controllers.

Quick, Accurate Rail Mounting

An easy-to-use dovetail mounting rail; on the top surface of ULTRAlign positioners; provides a single, common reference surface for objectives, fiber chucks, and other mounts. This permits more precise initial alignment, plus faster mounting and unmounting via a single setscrew.

Application Guide

17-236-S
Fiber coupler consisting of 561D-XYZ-LH , 561-OBJ , 561D-YZ , and 561-FH.
17-232-S
Fiber coupler with 6 degrees of freedom consisting of 561D-YZ , 561-OBJ , 561D-XYZ , 561-TILT , 561-GON , 561-GB , and 561-FH.
17-237-S
Fiber to fiber, butt coupled consisting of 561-TS , 561-FH (2 ea), 561D-XYZ , and 561-TILT.
17-234-S
Fiber to waveguide to fiber consisting of 561D-XYZ-LH , 561-FH (2 ea), 561D-YZ , 561-UM , 561D-XYZ , and 561-TILT.
17-235-S
Fiber to fiber via GRIN lens consisting of 561D-XYZ-LH , 561-FC (2 ea), 561-TS , 561-GR , 561D-XYZ , and 561-TILT.
561 stab spring-S
An impact force acting on a standard spring-flexure positioner.
561 stab plot-S
Because of the inherently greater stability of crossed roller bearings, ULTRAlign positioners settle many times faster.