Modular Piezoelectric Actuators

  • Modular Connectivity
  • Piezo Travel with Optional Feedback
  • Compatible with MAX300 and MAX600 Stages

Connector for Strain Gauge Feedback

Piezo Input
(0 - 75 V)


The DRV120 Installed on a Thorlabs 6-Axis NanoMax Stage

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Modular Piezo Actuator


  • 20 µm of Piezo-Actuated Travel with 5 nm Resolution
  • Position Sensing Feedback Supports Closed-Loop Control
  • Includes PAA622 Piezo Control Cable

The DRV120 Piezo Drive is designed to add additional travel range and control to our NanoMax™ Flexure Stages. Compatible piezo controllers, available separately, are listed in the table to the below. In addition, when used with our Modular Quick-Connect Adapters, the actuator can be fitted to any of our stages that accept a Ø9.5 mm (Ø3/8") or Ø10 mm (Ø0.39") mounting barrel. These extenders are ideal for applications requiring high-resolution movements over a small range. The DRV120 offers 20 µm of travel with feedback position sensing.

The piezo actuator fits between the stage and existing actuator, as shown in the example to the right with a DRV3 differential actuator. The DRV004, DRV208, and legacy DRV001 can also be used with the modular piezo drive.

Travel 20 µm
Piezo Voltage 0 - 75 V
Resolution 5 nmb
Feedback Strain Gauge
Capacitance 7.2 µF
Compatible Controllers BPC301
KPZ101 Combined with KSG101
  • The DRV120, as well as all other closed-loop piezo actuators and stages, includes a PAA622 piezo control cable.
  • Closed Loop

Strain Gauge Pin Out

Strain Gauge Pin Out

1 + 15 V
2 Oscillator +
3 0 V
4 Signal Out -
5 Singal In +
6 - 15 V
7 Travel

Piezo Inputs



0 - 75 V

Piezo Driver Bandwidth Tutorial

Knowing the rate at which a piezo is capable of changing lengths is essential in many high-speed applications. The bandwidth of a piezo controller and stack can be estimated if the following is known:

  1. The maximum amount of current the controllers can produce. This is 0.5 A for our BPC Series Piezo Controllers, which is the driver used in the examples below.
  2. The load capacitance of the piezo. The higher the capacitance, the slower the system.
  3. The desired signal amplitude (V), which determines the length that the piezo extends.
  4. The absolute maximum bandwidth of the driver, which is independent of the load being driven.

To drive the output capacitor, current is needed to charge it and to discharge it. The change in charge, dV/dt, is called the slew rate. The larger the capacitance, the more current needed:

Piezo Equation 1

For example, if a 100 µm stack with a capacitance of 20 µF is being driven by a BPC Series piezo controller with a maximum current of 0.5 A, the slew rate is given by

Piezo Equation 2

Hence, for an instantaneous voltage change from 0 V to 75 V, it would take 3 ms for the output voltage to reach 75 V.

Note: For these calculations, it is assumed that the absolute maximum bandwidth of the driver is much higher than the bandwidths calculated, and thus, driver bandwidth is not a limiting factor. Also please note that these calculations only apply for open-loop systems. In closed-loop mode, the slow response of the feedback loop puts another limit on the bandwidth.

Sinusoidal Signal

The bandwidth of the system usually refers to the system's response to a sinusoidal signal of a given amplitude. For a piezo element driven by a sinusoidal signal of peak amplitude A, peak-to-peak voltage Vpp, and frequency f, we have:

Piezo Equation 3

A diagram of voltage as a function of time is shown to the right. The maximum slew rate, or voltage change, is reached at t = 2nπ, (n=0, 1, 2,...) at point a in the diagram to the right:

Piezo Equation 4

From the first equation, above:

Piezo Equation 5

Piezo Equation 6

For the example above, the maximum full-range (75 V) bandwidth would be

Piezo Equation 7.

For a smaller piezo stack with 10 times lower capacitance, the results would be 10 times better, or about 1060 Hz. Or, if the peak-to-peak signal is reduced to 7.5 V (10% max amplitude) with the 100 µm stack, again, the result would be 10 times better at about 1060 Hz.

Triangle Wave Signal

For a piezo actuator driven by a triangle wave of max voltage Vpeak and minimum voltage of 0, the slew rate is equal to the slope:

Piezo Equation 8.

Or, since f = 1/T:

Equation 9

Square Wave Signal

For a piezo actuator driven by a square wave of maximum voltage Vpeak and minimum voltage 0, the slew rate limits the minimum rise and fall times. In this case, the slew rate is equal to the slope while the signal is rising or falling. If tr is the minimum rise time, then

Equation 11


Equation 12.


For additional information about piezo theory and operation, see the Piezoelectric Tutorials page.

Posted Comments:
bjoern.brandt  (posted 2019-01-09 12:55:55.063)
What is the maximum transferable force?
bhallewell  (posted 2019-01-17 09:56:35.0)
Response from Ben at Thorlabs: Whilst we don't hold a Max Preload Force spec for the DRV120, the actuator is designed for use with the MAX stage series. This contains a flexure design which requires a force of between 30-60N to move the stage top plate. The piezo block within the unit has a Blocking force of 1600N.
gurayamanpreet5800  (posted 2017-06-16 17:30:20.3)
I hv reuirement of Ultrasonic vibration module tht contains these specifications. This module is used for giving vibration to micro tool in micro drilling Vibration frequency, > 20 kHz Amplitude, µm:- (0.5~10) microns Ultrasonic generator:- 600W (appro)
awebber-date  (posted 2017-06-22 06:14:55.0)
Response from Alex at Thorlabs: I'm afraid this product would not be suitable for this purpose. The frequency is so high that there would be problems driving it electrically. The resonances in the mechanical structure would also cause unwanted motion.
asobolev  (posted 2013-10-04 16:04:00.717)
I can not find any data on voltage to displacement conversion for DRV181. Is it linear with coefficient = 80 microns/75 Ohms? What are the uni and bidirectional repeatabilities? Full specification would be usefull. Thanks!
msoulby  (posted 2013-10-08 04:32:00.0)
Response from Mike at Thorlabs: We do not have any calibration or look up table for this actuator. However the following information may be of use to you: At 75V the actuator will be at its maximum travel specification, i.e. 0V=0um, 75V=80um. Piezo actuation vs. voltage is approximately linear and proportional, however an open loop device such as the DRV181 will suffer from hysteresis and drift, i.e. a position approached from a low voltage will have a slightly different voltage than if approached from a high voltage. Smaller voltage increments will reduce this effect; i have contacted you with a diagram to illustrate this. Only with a closed loop system with strain gauge feedback can this hysteresis behaviour be eliminated to make the travel vs. voltage linear.

Modular Piezoelectric Acutator with Feedback, 20 µm Travel

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DRV120 Support Documentation
DRV120Modular NanoMax 20 µm Piezo Drive with Feedback