Historically, the company's products served institutional and corporate research. More recently, its products have been used for the manufacture and testing of the newest generation of fiber optic telecommunications systems. Significant growth has resulted, requiring the expansion of the company's headquarters in Fishers, N.Y., a community 20 miles southeast of Rochester.
The company believes that the new facility will meet its objectives through the year 2002, at which time another expansion will be necessary. The current project is estimated to cost in excess of $1.5 million, and the company plans to add 21 high tech jobs in the next three years.
The nature of converting electrical energy to mechanical energy with piezoelectric ceramics is well-known, as are the most common applications: ultrasonic cleaners and drills, wave generation and detection for sonar and related applications, sensors, buzzers and backyard gas grill lighters. The unique properties of piezoelectric ceramics also make them useful for high resolution positioning to control optics for laser-related applications. Since the dimensional change of the material is proportional to the applied voltage, the position of an object can be adjusted with nearly infinite resolution. They can be operated over millions of cycles without wear or deterioration.
Speed of response is very high, limited only by the inertia of the object being moved and the output capability of the electronic driver. Virtually no power is consumed or heat generated to maintain a piezoelectric actuator in an energized state. However, the maximum dimensional change of a piezoelectric actuator is on the order of 0.1% of its total length. For many optical applications, these small, micron-size motions are not a limitation. But to extend the usefulness of piezoelectric ceramics in fiber optics and other applications, larger motions are required.
To generate longer piezoelectric motion, Burleigh developed and patented a piezoelectric ceramic linear motor (InchwormR) to provide nanometer-scale resolution over many millimeters of motion. The design is based on three piezoelectric actuators connected in series. The three actuators act on a motor shaft individually to generated motion. When activated, the outside actuators grab the shaft. The middle, or center, actuator moves the shaft axially. By coordinating the outside clamp actuators with the movement of the center, motion, limited only by the length of the shaft, is generated.
Components for wavelength division multiplexing are now typically made using slow labor-intensive processes involving an operator to align and package an assembly by hand. For a number of reasons, the manufacture of these components must be made less expensive, faster, and smaller.
"Our technology is well-suited for the development of fiber optic telecommunications systems," said Dave Farrell, president. "Since this industry is poised for explosive growth for many years to come, we will need to continue to rapidly alter our business methods and processes to meet their needs. Our expansion plans give us the flexibility to rapidly change."