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New Scale Technologies, Inc. has received its fifth U.S. patent for miniature piezoelectric motor technology. Trade-named the UTAF motor (for Ultra-Thin Auto Focus, its target application), the tiny new device integrates all ultrasonic motor functions into a single piezoelectric ceramic beam measuring only 4.5 X 0.82 X 0.7 mm.

Piezoelectric ceramics vibrate in response to electrical signals; ultrasonic motors translate those micrometer-scale vibrations into larger motion through friction contact. The UTAF motor uses an innovative co-fired multi-layer ceramic process to create a single beam composed of many thin layers of piezo ceramic.

Sub-segments of the monolithic beam are energized independently, causing the beam to vibrate simultaneously in two orthogonal directions as its motion mechanism. Frequency, phase and amplitude of the ultrasonic vibrations are controlled by a two-phase drive circuit.

Because the layers are very thin, they respond to signals of only 3V or less. This is a significant advantage in smart phone camera applications, as it allows the UTAF motor to operate directly from the phone battery. New Scale has licensed its UTAF motor patent to TDK-EPC (EPCOS), a world leader in manufacturing advanced multi-layer piezoelectric ceramics.

UTAF motor enables ultra-thin auto focus cameras The UTAF motor is combined with several other patent-pending innovations to deliver a complete ultra-thin auto focus actuator module for next-generation ultra-thin mobile phones with image sensors better than 8 MP. These innovations include advanced drive electronics incorporated into New Scale's NSD-2101 driver IC, a compact lens module design with a high-efficiency pin-bushing guide, and "Smart Step" control software that optimizes speed and accuracy while minimizing acoustic noise.

The UTAF Ultra-Thin Auto Focus module enables continuous auto focus for video capture, as well as faster focus more rapid picture taking. The complete UTAF actuator module measures less than 4 x 8.5 x 8.5 mm.

 
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