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APT NanoTrak® Auto-Alignment Controller

  • Advanced "First Light" Closed-Loop Detection
  • IR (InGaAs) Detector and PIN Current I/P Supplied
  • Visible (Si) Detector Also Available
  • Two High-Voltage Piezo Actuator Output Channels

Supplied with a Full Suite
of Software Support Tools


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  • Tracking Feature Maintains Optimum Throughput Indefinitely
  • Advanced Dark Search Algorithms for First Light Detection with Motorized Fiber Launch
  • Two Piezo Actuator Output Channels Provide Closed-Loop Feedback
  • IR (InGaAs) Detector (Item # NTA007) & PIN Current Inputs Included
  • Visible (Si) Detectors Available Separately
  • Supports External Displacement Sensors for Deterministic Control of System when Latching (Freezing) Alignment
  • Full Software GUI Control Suite
  • ActiveX Graphical Panel Controls and Programming Interfaces
  • Seamless Software Integration with Entire APT™ Family of Products (Electronics and Mechanics)

The NanoTrak® auto-alignment controller combines an intelligent, active-feedback, alignment control system and a two channel, piezoelectric controller into a single bench top unit. As part of the APT™ series, this auto-alignment system represents the latest developments in automated optical alignment technologies. This system is a basic building block from which advanced alignment systems can be quickly configured. It can be fully integrated with our extensive selection of motorized positioning systems, including our 3-Axis NanoMax and 6-Axis Nanomax flexure stages with piezo actuators.

The initial coupling of light from one device (e.g. fiber) to another involves searching a multidimensional space until a signal is detected. The NanoTrak support software offers a series of motor search algorithms for this first light detection. Although used primarily for aligning optical fibers and integrated optical devices, the NanoTrak is ideal for automating just about any labor intensive alignment task, such as waveguide characterization, fiber pigtailing of active and passive devices, as well as a multitude of other R&D applications.

The NanoTrak is supplied with an Infrared wavelength (InGaAs) detector (NTA007) and a PIN diode SMB input for use with external detector heads. A visible wavelength (Si) detector (NTA009) is available separately as detailed below.

NanoTrak® Automated Fiber Alignment Controllers
K-Cube™ 2-Channel Controllers Benchtop 2-Channel Controller Modular 2-Channel Rack System Module

BNT001/IR Specifications

Signal Measurement
PIN Photo-Diode Input
Connector TypeSMB male
Current Range1 nA to 10 mA Photocurrent
Visible Light Detector
Connector TypeFC/PC
Detector TypeSilicon (Si)
Operating Wavelength320-1000 nm
IR Detector
Connector TypeFC/PC
Detector typeInGaAs
Operating Wavelength900-1700 nm
Circle Scanning Frequency1 to 300 Hz
Circle Position Range<1% to >99% Maximum Piezo Extension (MPE)
Circle Diameter Adjustment ModesAutomatic and Manual
Signal Phase Compensation-180° to 180°
Piezoelectric Input/Output
Number of Piezo Channels2
HV Output Connectors
Connector TypeSMC male
Voltage Output0 to 75 VDC/Channel
Voltage Stability100 ppm over 24 Hours
Noise< 3 mV (rms)
Output Current500 mA/Channel
Analog Output Monitors
Connector TypeBNC
Voltage Range0 to 10 VDC
Analog Drive Inputs
Connector TypeBNC
Voltage Range0 to 10 VDC
Strain Gauge Position Feedback
Connector Type9 Pin D-type Female
Feedback TypeAC
Other Input/Output
Optical Power Monitor
Connector TypeBNC
Voltage Range0 to 10 VDC
User Control
Connector Type37 Pin D-Type Female
Isolated Digital Inputs8 off TTL
Isolated Digital Outputs4 off TTL
Trigger Input1 off TTL
Trigger Output1 off TTL
Potentiometer Channel Control Input1k to 10k (each channel)
Analog Channel Output Monitors0 to 10 VDC (each channel)
LV Channel1 Output / Trigger Output
Connector TypeBNC
Voltage Range (LV Ch1 Mode)0 to 10 VDC
Trigger Output ModeTTL
LV Channel 2 Output / Trigger Input
Connector TypeBNC
Voltage Range (LV Ch2 Mode)0 to 10 VDC
Trigger Input ModeTTL
USB Port
Connector TypeType B
Power Requirementsa
Voltage85 to 264 VAC
Frequency47 to 63 Hz
Power200 W
Dimensions (W x D x H)245 x 130 x 330 mm
Weight6 kg (13 lbs)
  • Location-specific power cord provided.

NTA009 Specifications

Spectral RangeActive AreaFiber InputRise TimeNEPDark Current
320 - 1000 nmØ 0.8 mmFC/PC Bulkhead100 ps @ 12 V3.1 x 10-15 W/Hz0.01 nA @ 10 V


NTA007 Specifications

Spectral RangeActive AreaFiber InputRise TimeNEPDark Current
900 - 1700 nmØ 0.12 mmFC/PC Bulkhead300 ps @ 5 V4.5 x 10-15 W/Hz0.05 nA @ 5 V

User I/O Controller

D-type Female

DB37 Female

1Ch 1 RS485 (-)2014DIG I/P 3a27 to 3727Isolated Groundb-
2Ch 2 RS485 (-)2115DIG I/P 4a27 to 3728Isolated Groundb-
3Not Used-16DIG I/P 5a27 to 3729Isolated Groundb-
4Potentiometer Wiper Ch 1-17DIG I/P 6a27 to 3730Isolated Groundb-
5Potentiometer Wiper Ch 2-18DIG I/P 7a27 to 3731Isolated Groundb-
6Channel 1 10 V O/Pd-19DIG I/P 8a27 to 3732Isolated Groundb-
7Channel 2 10 V O/Pd-20Ch 1 RS485 (+)133Isolated Groundb-
8DIG O/P 1a27 to 3721Ch 2 RS485 (-)234Isolated Groundb-
9DIG O/P 2a27 to 3722Potentiometer Reference2335Isolated Groundb-
10DIG O/P 3a27 to 3723Analog Ground-36Isolated Groundb-
11DIG O/P 4a27 to 3724External Trigger O/Pc-37Isolated Groundb-
12DIG I/P 1a27 to 3725External Trigger I/Pc-
13DIG I/P 2a27 to 37265 V User O/P (Isolated)27 to 37

a Opto-isolated, TTL level signal.
b For use with digital signals.
c TTL signal.
d For use with external signal monitoring equipment.

Piezo Controller

D-type Female

DB9 Female

1Wheatstone Bridge Excitation4 or 64d.c.(+) or Equipment Groundc-7d.c.(-) or Actuator ID Signalb,c4 or 6
2+15Va4 or 65Feedback Signal In4 or 68RS485 (-)9
3-15Va4 or 66Equiptment Ground-9RS485 (+)8

a Power supply for the piezo actuator feedback circuit. It must not be used to drive any other circuits or devices.
b This signal is applicable only to Thorlabs actuators. It enables the system to identify the piezo extension associated with the actuator.
c Software switchable signal for strain gauge or d.c. feedback.

Sig In

BNC Female

BNC Female

0 to 10 V, 100 kΩ load. Used to receive a signal of optical power from an external power meter.

Sig Out

BNC Female

BNC Female

0 to 10 V, 2 mA. Can be connected to an oscilloscope to monitor the power signal received on the OPTICAL IN connection.




0 to 75 V, 0 to 250 mA. Provides the drive signal to the piezo actuator.

Ext In (+) and Ext IN (-)

BNC Female

BNC Female

Used to control the position of the piezo actuator from an external source. 0 to ±10 V 100 kΩ load. Polarity is selected in the Settings panel or in software by calling the Piezo SetIPSource method. The difference between the two signals is amplified internally before being routed to the HV OUT connector.

LV Ch1/Trig. Out
and LV Ch2/Trig. In

BNC Female

BNC Female

0 to +10 V. These outputs mirror the associated HV OUT, 10 V being equivalent to 75V on the HV outputs, and can be connected to an oscilloscope to enable the drive signal of the piezo actuator to be monitored.

Computer Connection

USB type A

USB type A

USB Cable Included

Principle of Operation

During the auto-alignment process, the NanoTrak® uses gradient search algorithms to locate the direction of a peak signal. This operation is similar to that of a compass finding the north pole. The sensitivity of the search is such that even far away from the peak signal, where there are small power gradients, the NanoTrak can decide in which direction the peak signal is located. This information is then used to make positional corrections via the attached high speed piezo actuators without having to map or search a large area.

In the proximity of a peak signal, the signal gradient seen is much smaller, indicating that smaller positional correction is required. When peak signal is reached the gradient seen changes to zero, indicating that no positional correction is needed.

The dynamic behaviour of the NanoTrak allows it to continue the alignment process indefinitely. Should the alignment change, the gradient search will detect the change and make a corrective move.

Typical Application Example (Optical Device Alignment)

Optical power transmission through any system under alignment can be described as a Gaussian coupling. Coupled power lowers as a function of distance relative to the aligned position (dependent upon device). Discrete power level alignments can be thought of as positions about the ideal coupling position, where the distances from the aligned position are equal. These discrete power alignment positions form concentric circles. These concentric circles represent the power contours and can be thought of as the gradient contours of a hill on a topographic map.

By detecting the gradient of the power at any given position, the NanoTrak can adjust the position until the power is maximized and the gradient becomes zero. This is achieved by scanning over the contours in a circular path to establish the direction of the signal maximum on the circular trajectory. The origin of the scan circle is then moved in the direction of the signal maximum.

Continuous active alignment can be used to maintain alignment, or the search algorithms can be halted for next step assembly or R&D operations.

Thorlabs offers two platforms to drive our wide range of motion controllers: our Kinesis® software package or the legacy APT™ (Advanced Positioning Technology) software package. Either package can be used to control devices in the Kinesis family, which covers a wide range of motion controllers ranging from small, low-powered, single-channel drivers (such as the K-Cubes™ and T-Cubes™) to high-power, multi-channel, modular 19" rack nanopositioning systems (the APT Rack System).

The Kinesis Software features .NET controls which can be used by 3rd party developers working in the latest C#, Visual Basic, LabVIEW™, or any .NET compatible languages to create custom applications. Low-level DLL libraries are included for applications not expected to use the .NET framework. A Central Sequence Manager supports integration and synchronization of all Thorlabs motion control hardware.

Kinesis Software
Kinesis GUI Screen
APT Software
APT GUI Screen

Our legacy APT System Software platform offers ActiveX-based controls which can be used by 3rd party developers working on C#, Visual Basic, LabVIEW™, or any Active-X compatible languages to create custom applications and includes a simulator mode to assist in developing custom applications without requiring hardware.

By providing these common software platforms, Thorlabs has ensured that users can easily mix and match any of the Kinesis and APT controllers in a single application, while only having to learn a single set of software tools. In this way, it is perfectly feasible to combine any of the controllers from single-axis to multi-axis systems and control all from a single, PC-based unified software interface.

The software packages allow two methods of usage: graphical user interface (GUI) utilities for direct interaction with and control of the controllers 'out of the box', and a set of programming interfaces that allow custom-integrated positioning and alignment solutions to be easily programmed in the development language of choice.

A range of video tutorials is available to help explain our APT system software. These tutorials provide an overview of the software and the APT Config utility. Additionally, a tutorial video is available to explain how to select simulator mode within the software, which allows the user to experiment with the software without a controller connected. Please select the APT Tutorials tab above to view these videos.


Kinesis Version 1.14.25

The Kinesis Software Package, which includes a GUI for control of Thorlabs' Kinesis and APT™ system controllers.

Also Available:

  • Communications Protocol
Software Download


APT Version 3.21.4

The APT Software Package, which includes a GUI for control of Thorlabs' APT™ and Kinesis system controllers.

Also Available:

  • Communications Protocol
Software Download

These videos illustrate some of the basics of using the APT System Software from both a non-programming and a programming point of view. There are videos that illustrate usage of the supplied APT utilities that allow immediate control of the APT controllers out of the box. There are also a number of videos that explain the basics of programming custom software applications using Visual Basic, LabView and Visual C++. Watch the videos now to see what we mean.

  Click here to view the video tutorial  

To further assist programmers, a guide to programming the APT software in LabView is also available.

Labview Icon Click here to view the LabView guide Labview Icon

Posted Comments:
empire135  (posted 2016-10-25 12:36:39.393)
I lost my software CD. Can i get a software? I have a serial number of BNT001(SN:22829095).
bhallewell  (posted 2016-10-25 08:55:19.0)
Response from Ben at Thorlabs: Thank you for your product feedback. You can download our new Kinesis software Motion Control software from the following link. Here you can also find further links to resources including example code as well as links to our legacy software package, APT.  (posted 2015-06-16 08:40:20.147)
I finally succeeded in making the system work. It works very well. The software interface is very intuitive and efficient. We are going to save a lot of time during the numerous optical alignments.
msoulby  (posted 2015-06-16 03:52:11.0)
Response from Mike at Thorlabs: I am glad to hear that you have solved the problem and we appreciate your feedback on the software interface. Please feel free to contact us if you have any further questions.
frrederic.vandijk  (posted 2015-06-13 09:40:40.387)
We just acquired a BNT001/IR system. I installed the software downloaded from the net successfully (no CD delivered with the system), installed it on a windows7 os pc, re-started the pc after connecting the BNT001/IR and couldn't see the user interface when using the APT-user software. Can you help me with this big problem?
msoulby  (posted 2015-06-16 03:45:45.0)
Response from Mike at Thorlabs: If the user interface does not appear there are a few things that can typically cause this. 1) Please ensure all USB cables are connected prior to powering up the controller, this is to help ensure USB communication is established correctly. 2) Check that the simulator mode is disabled in APT config, having this enabled accidently will prevent you from using the actual unit. 3) In APT User if the interface is not displayed you can check the View menu and then expand the 'graphical panels' sub-menu, in here you will be able to open or close any active devices that are currently connected.
Laurie  (posted 2009-02-05 17:12:29.0)
Response from Laurie at Thorlabs to melsscal: Thank you for your interest in our BNT001 nano trak controller. Yes, it can be used with our MAX313/M.
melsscal  (posted 2009-02-05 03:45:50.0)
Can we use BNT001 as Nano Track Controller with MAX313/M ? Regards A.K.Bose

APT NanoTrak® Auto-alignment Controller

The NanoTrak® controller optimizes the coupling power when aligning devices. The output piezo drive signal is used to position the input and output devices for optimum throughput. It is shipped with an IR range (InGaAs) detector and a PIN current adapter. A visible range (Si) detector (NTA009) is available separately (see below).

Based on your currency / country selection, your order will ship from Newton, New Jersey  
+1 Qty Docs Part Number - Universal Price Available
BNT001/IR Support Documentation
BNT001/IRAPT System Benchtop NanoTrak® Controller, IR Dectector

NanoTrak® Detector Heads

These infrared (NTA007) and visible (NTA009) wavelength detector heads are compatible with the benchtop (BNT001/IR), previous-generation T-Cube™ (TNA001/IR), and rack-mounted (MNA601/IR) NanoTrak® controllers.

Item # Wavelength Range Active Area Fiber Input Dark Current Junction Capacitance
NTA009 320 - 1000 nm Ø 0.8 mm FC/PC 0.01 nA (Typ.) @ 10 V 3.00 pF(Typ.) @ 10 V
NTA007 900 - 1700 nm Ø 0.12 mm FC/PC 0.05 nA (Typ.) @ 5 V 2.0 pF (Typ.) @ 5 V

NTA Responsivity

Based on your currency / country selection, your order will ship from Newton, New Jersey  
+1 Qty Docs Part Number - Universal Price Available
NTA009 Support Documentation
NTA009APT NanoTrak® Visible Light (Si) Detector Head, 320 - 1000 nm
NTA007 Support Documentation
NTA007APT NanoTrak® IR (InGaAs) Detector Head, 900 - 1700 nm
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