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Newsletter March 2021 | Menu of Newsletters
" As a designer in the AFM field, I truly appreciate the ingenious design of this bench top platform..."
More customer comments...

- AFM-Atomic Force Microscope Sees More with Vibration Isolation
at the Nanoscale Level.

- Featured Product: BM-1 Bench Top Vibration Isolation Platform

- Friction Vibration Isolation in Micromachines

- Critical Nano-Precision Negative-Stiffness vs. Active Vibration Isolation

- A Perfect 10 could be an 11 with the CT-2 Ultra-Thin Platform
and Audio & Turntable Vibration Isolation

- 3D Surface Analysis Vibration Isolation

- Optical Photopatterning & Photovoltaic Performance Vibration Isolation

- Ultra-Low Vibration Lab at University of Michigan
Facilitates Nanoengineering Discoveries

- Previous Features
- 300 leading universities and private and government laboratories
in 51 countries use Minus K technology

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Atomic Force Microscope Sees More Through Vibration Isolation
Vibration isolation and better scan size enables atomic force microscopy (AFMs)
to see more at the nanoscale level.

Here is an image of 250 µm width of butterfly wing using University of California, Santa Barbara AFM with negative-stiffness vibration isolation.

(Lagacy 2013 article) With its development in 1986, and subsequent commercial introduction in 1989, the atomic force microscope (AFM) is one of the foremost tools for imaging and measuring materials and cells on the nanoscale. Revealing sample details at the atomic level, with resolution on the order of fractions of a nanometer, the AFM is instrumental for imaging an array of applications, such as defining surface characterizations, lithography, datastorage, and manipulation of atoms and nano-sized structures on a variety of surfaces.

The need for more precise vibration isolation with AFM, though, is becoming critical as resolutions continue to bridge from micro to nano. AFM systems are extremely susceptible to vibrations from the environment. When measuring a very few angstroms or nanometers of displacement, an absolutely stable surface must be established for the instrument. Any vibration coupled into the mechanical structure of the instrument will cause vertical and horizontal noise and bring about a reduction in the ability to measure with the highest resolution.

The vertical axis is the most sensitive for AFMs, but these microscopes are also quite sensitive to vibrations in the X and Y axes.

The atomic force microscope uses a sharp tip (probe), with a radius of curvature on the order of nanometers attached to the end of a tiny cantilever used to scan across a sample surface to image its topography and material properties. When the tip is brought into proximity of a sample surface, forces between the tip and the surface lead to a deflection of the cantilever This deflection is typically recorded using a laser beam that is reflected from the top surface of the cantilever to a photosensitive detector. The resultant position change of the cantilever allows characteristics such as mechanical, electrostatic, magnetic, chemical and other forces to be precisely measured by the AFM. These characteristics are displayed in a three-dimensional surface profile of the sample (in the X, Y and Z axes)an advantage that the AFM can provide compared to other microscopy techniques, such as the scanning electron microscope (SEM) which delivers a two-dimensional image of a sample (in the X and Y axes).

Minus K BM-1 Isolator.

Full article...


Featured Product: BM-1 Bench Top Vibration Isolation Platform

  • Vertical Load Adjustment Crank - Simple manual adjustment compensates for changes in vertical load.
  • Vertical Load Adjustment Indicator - Easily determine optimum setting using this simple visual indicator.
  • Vertical Stiffness Adjustment Screw - Dial in Guaranteed 1/2 Hz or less Vertical natural frequency using this simple adjustment.
  • Isolator Dimensions: 24" W x 22.5" D x 9" H (610mm W x 572mm D x 216mm H).
  • Weight: Approximately 90 lb (41 kg) - Dimensions - an additional 0.675" taller than the above units

Vertical natural frequency of 1/2 Hz or less can be achieved over the entire load range.

Horizontal natural frequency is load dependent. 1/2 Hz or less can be achieved at or near the nominal load.

Specifications (pdf)


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Charting New Depths for Understanding Friction in Micromachines

Abstract: Researchers in the Physics Department of St. Olaf College are using a uniquely designed, integrated nanoindenter-quartz microbalance apparatus to bridge the gap between the fundamental science of friction and the engineering of practical micromechanical systems. This level of micro-research requires extreme stability for the microbalance instrumentation. Since 2001, the lab has used negative-stiffness vibration isolation to achieve a high level of isolation in multiple directions, custom tailoring resonant frequencies to 0.5 Hz vertically and horizontally.

Introduction: Scientists do not fully understand what causes friction and wear between two surfaces at the molecular level. When designing a micromechanical system, the fundamental machine parts of gears, hinges, pistons, gimbals, and suspended beams that flex are included. Basic motions that are the essence of mechanics rely on these materials having durability and low or controllable friction. Mastering these forces that occur on small-scale surfaces of micromachines is a considerable challenge. When the mechanical parts are very small, their properties are dominated by minute surface forces that macroscopic machines are not sensitive enough to detect. This raises entirely new questions about how to maintain minute components and to keep them moving and protected from wear or breakage.

Silicon Uniformity:
Engineers have relied on extremely thin lubricant films to reduce friction and to keep parts moving inside tiny silicon-constructed microelectromechanical systems (MEMS). But these films have not been sufficiently effective in micromachines, which rely on relatively fast-moving parts that are in contact with each other, such as gears, gimbals, and pistons. Since the early 1980s, with the introduction of the first micromechanical machines, the vision has been to batch-fabricate these devices as silicon chips to link with circuitry that can be connected wirelessly. However, these small silicon machines often disintegrate after just a few hours of operation. This technology has, for some time, been struggling to make it to the marketplace. Decades of research in both academia and business has been undertaken to understand friction and wear well enough at these micro- and nano-scales to effectively lubricate and provide wear protection.

New Research Methodology:
Professor Brian Borovsky, Associate Professor in the Physics Department at St. Olaf College in Northfield, MN, has been researching micro/nanotribology for over two decades [14]. He has pioneered friction research as applied to very tiny micromechanical machines, having developed state-of-the-art instrumentation and a process that tests frictional properties of surfaces coated with ultrathin lubricants. His is one of the few labs that can measure friction of micromachine surfaces sliding past each other at very high speeds that approach 1m/s.

While equipped with scanning electron (SEM) and atomic force microscopy (AFM) for analysis of surfaces, the labs focus instrumentation is a specially designed force probe nanoindenter in conjunction with a quartz microbalance...

Full article...

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Commercial Micro Manufacturing - Dec.2020

Negative-Stiffness vs. Active Vibration Isolation for Critical Nano-Precision Applications

The need for nano- precision has became increasingly important in many fields of research and manufacturing, inducing microelectromcs fabrication, laser/optical system applications and biological research. This has meant that so too has the need for vibration Isolation technology that better facilitates the operation of sensitive Instrumentation such as atomic force microscopes, scanning tunneling microscopes, laser interferometers and optical profilers.

Once the mainstay for stabilizing academia's and Industry's most critical microenginering instrumentation, pneumatic (gas or air pressurized) vibration Isolation tables are today proving unsatisfactory in isolating disruptive low-frequency vibrations. There is a growing trend for locating sensitive instrumentation in building to locations that are subject to extremely high levels of vibration and this is a significant stumbling block for pneumatic vibration isolation tables, meaning alternative vibration isolation solutions are required.

Vibration sources
Nano-level instrumentation is sensitive to extremely small payload vibrations that can be caused by a multitude of factors. Every structure (building) transmits vibrations from Internal and external sources In a building, heating and ventilation systems, fans, pumps and elevators are Just some of the mechanical devices that create vibrations. Outside a building, adjacent road traffic, nearby construction, aircraft and even wand and other weather conditions all create vibrations How strongly the instrumentation is influenced depends on where it is in the building and how far away it is from the vibration sources.

Isolation for vibration critical applications
Over the past 25 years, two technologies have gained prominence for their ability to Isolate vibrations Influencing nano-level Instrumentation, namely active vibration isolation (also known as electronic-force cancellation) and negative-stiffness vibration isolation {also known as passive vibration isolation).

Both active and negative-stiffness vibration isolation are uniquely equipped for applications where structures smaller than a micrometre need to be produced or measured. These technologies provide functionality that is typically not achievable with pneumatic vibration isolation tables.

Full article: Comparing systems...

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Minus K Technology CT-2 Bench Top Vibration Isolation Platform for Audio & Turntables

The CT-2 was originally developed for scientific and research applications such as spacecraft design, nanotechnology, and medical research. The patented technology is called Negative-stiffness, where the isolating platform seems to float with no resistance.

You might have thought, maybe for only a few moments, that your audio system was sounding especially good. With that feeling, you would have rated the sound a top score of "10". Then those magical moments ended and your system returned to it's normal - but still good - performance level. Well, folks, the Minus K CT-2 Isolation Platform could raise your system score to an "11" and keep it there! Highly recommended for systems that are already high performance and where you want to coax the maximum performance from your audio investment....

Dr. David L. Platus is President and Founder and is the principal inventor of the technology. He earned a B.S. and a Ph.D. in Engineering from UCLA, and a diploma from the Oak Ridge School of (Nuclear) Reactor Technology. Prior to founding Minus K® Technology he worked in the nuclear, aerospace and defence industries conducting and directing analysis and design projects in structural-mechanical systems. He became an independent consultant in 1988. Dr. Platus holds over 20 patents related to shock and vibration isolation.

Ultra-Thin 2.7" High CT-2 Product Attributes:
  - Isolation performance is typically 10 to 100 times better than air systems
  - No air or electric power is required
  - Nothing to wear out
  - No maintenance

A complete description of the patented Negative-stiffness design can be found on the Technology page of the manufacturers Web site. The Minus K platform is completely silent and requires no pumps or power. The CT-2 model platforms are available for different weight ranges of payload, or supported weight. The 40CT-2 model, while not specifically listed on the Web page, was perfect for the Clearaudio Ovation turntable used for this review. The platform dimensions are 18" W x 20" D x 2.7" H, with a weight of about 30 pounds. Different models, for different payloads, range in price from $4,650 to about $5,250. In my system, the platform was installed 20" W x 18" D, which placed the adjustment crank on the 18" left side.

The horizontal frequency of ~1.5 Hz is achieved at or near the upper limits of the payload range. The vertical frequency is tunable to 0.5 Hz throughout the payload range. What this means is that any very low frequency vibrations that are not blocked or absorbed by the Minus K platform are several orders of magnitude below what your phono cartridge, or even the best subwoofers, can process.

Full article...

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3D Surface Analysis Vibration Isolation
High-precision, nanometer-level 3D surface measurement systems can be negatively affected by low-frequency vibration—distorting imaging and producing inaccurate measurement readings.

Manufacturers need to control processes to produce a consistent, reliable product. Where precision surface engineering is required, surface measurement may be a key part of maintaining control of the process, by checking output to see that the process is not outside of specification.

3D non-contact surface analysis is widely used in the industry for the measurement of small displacements and surface irregularities. It delivers the ultimate in high accuracy and repeatable and traceable measurement. When built into microscopy equipment, employing 3D laser scanning or structured light, these systems report the surface condition of a product with more accuracy than any other methodproviding nanometer-level profile measurements of height, width, angle, radius, volume, and roughness. Such precision measurement systems allow users to improve product quality and reliability, and increase manufacturing consistency and production yields.

Low-Frequency Vibration
When measuring at such high levels of precision, any instrument can be negatively affected by low-frequency vibrations generated within a manufacturing facility. These can distort measurements and impact imaging and measurement data

One company that has great familiarity with the manufacturing environment and 3D surface measurements is Keyence Corporation--a leading supplier of sensors, measuring systems, laser markers, microscopes, and machine vision systems worldwide.

We have many customers with high-precision 3D measurement systems operating in high-vibration environments, performing microscopy evaluation at 30,000 times magnification, looking at nanometer-level surface features, said Evan Eltinge, Senior Sales Engineer Surface Analysis Team, with Keyence Corporation of America. At that level of detail, and in that environment, if measures are taken to reduce vibration it improves the quality of the data.

Without proper isolation surface measurements occurring at 3,000 to 5,000 times magnification, the vibration could contribute to image blurring and loss of image quality, continued Eltinge.

Vibration can be caused by a multitude of factors within a plant; every structure is transmitting noise. Within the building itself, production machinery, forklift trucks, the heating and ventilation system, fans, pumps, compressors, and elevators are just some of the mechanical devices and equipment that create low-frequency vibration. Depending on how far away the surface measurement instrumentation is from these vibration sources, and where inside the structure the instrumentation is locatedwhether on the production floor or in a loftwill determine how strongly the instrumentation will be influenced.

External to the building, the equipment can be influenced by vibrations from truck movement, road traffic, nearby construction, loud noise from aircraft, and even wind and other weather conditions that can cause movement of the structure.

Vibration Isolation Options for 3D Surface Analysis...

Full article...

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Optical Photopatterning & Photovoltaic Performance Vibration Isolation
"Working at these micron and sub-micron levels our necessity for vibration isolation
became critical for our optical patterning systems."

The Moulé Group, at the University of California/Davis, is interested in the solution processing and patterning of organic electronic materials for use in devices such as light-emitting diodes, photovoltaics, transistors, thermoelectric, and chemical sensors. The Group specifically focuses on using structural and dynamic measurement techniques to quantify the effects of solution processing and patterning on material morphology and device architecture.

Tucker Murrey, a doctoral candidate and published author with the Moulé Group, is actively involved with researching and designing a scalable optical patterning process for organic photovoltaic applications.

"Most working organic devices consist of several layers of material, each having a specific optical and/or electronic function," said Murrey. "One universal design constraint for complicated device architectures, like organic field-effect transistors (OFETs), organic photovoltaics (OPVs) and red-green-blue organic light-emitting diode (OLED) displays is that they require multiple components patterned laterally and vertically to operate. Currently, many of these components are comprised of non-flexible inorganic materials. In order to move towards flexible, all organic electronic devices, there is a need to develop high precision vertical and lateral patterning methods that are compatible with solution processing.

mmense efforts in the plastic electronics field have led to unprecedented progress and continuous improvements in organic photovoltaic (OPV) performance.

"Given that conventional photolithography technology techniques are incompatible with polymeric semiconductors, there is a critical need to develop scalable photopatterning methods capable of laterally patterning organic semiconducting compounds with sub-micromometer resolution," added Murrey. "This patterning process would enable the construction of a sophisticated OPV architecture designed to increase external quantum efficiency."

"A scalable process for controlling film topography with sub-micrometer resolution would represent a substantial development that enables the advancement of complex organic electronic device architectures," continued Murrey.

Photothermal Projection Lithography
The Moulé Group is working on a series of solution-based methods, one of which is called Photothermal Projection Lithography for Polymeric Semiconductors with Sub-diffraction Limited Resolution.

Polymeric semiconductors combine many of the electrical properties of inorganic semiconductors with the mechanical flexibility and chemical processability of organic materials, such as enabling them to be deposited from solution over large areas, greatly reducing production costs compared to conventional metallic semiconductors. Developments like this have motivated a rapid increase in demand for low-cost, high-throughput, and high-resolution fabrication techniques.

Organic semiconductors are non-metallic materials that exhibit semiconductor properties, whose building blocks are polymers made up of carbon and hydrogen atoms. These conductive polymers are, essentially, electrical insulators, but become conducting when charges are either injected from electrodes or by photoexcitation, or doping the intentional introduction of impurities into an intrinsic semiconductor for the purpose of modulating its electrical, optical, and structural properties.

"Over the past year I have been upscaling an optical patterning process that our group developed to make micro-scale electronic devices with these materials," expressed Murrey. "The overall pattern area was limited to less than one square millimeter. Now we are trying to upscale the overall patterning area to about one square centimeter."

Murrey designed a unique lab-scale photolithography system, modifying a Leica DM2700 optical microscope, swapping out its LED illumination source to permit a high-powered (Class 4) 405nm diode laser to be projected through it. Built into the system is a laser beam expander, collimating lens, and an optical speckle remover.

   Full article...

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Previous Features:

Ultra-Low Vibration Lab at University of Michigan
Facilitates Nanoengineering Discoveries

Portable Atom Interferometry Negative-Stiffness Vibration Isolation

Vibration Criterion (VC) Curves-Lab Analysis

Heavy Payload Systems Vibration Isolation

Bad Vibrations: How to Keep the Effects of Environmental Bounce Out of Your Data

Vibration Isolation & Certifying Bowling Ball Surface Roughness

Press Release: Laser Focus World Innovator Award for
Ultra-Thin, Low-Height CT-1

How They Work>>Negative-Stiffness Vibration Isolators

Microscopy Vibration Isolation

FAQs>>Frequently Asked Questions About Vibration Isolation

Custom Vibration Isolation Systems

Audio Reproduction & Turntable Vibration Isolation

Vibration Isolator Steadies Optics for NASA Telescopes + Vacuum Isolation

Optical-Laser Vibration Isolation + video

Optical-Laser Vibration Isolation + video

Cryostat Vibration Isolation

Nanoindentation & Micro Hardness Testing
Vibration Isolation

Ultra-Low Frequency Vibration Isolation Stabilizes Scanning Tunneling Microscopy

Neuronal Research into Animal Learning, Memory Neuronal Research,
Vibration Isolation Problem & Solution

Sunken Treasure Surrounding The Coldest Cubic Meter In The Universe
Supported by Minus K Vibration Isolators

Lithium Batteries: Superionic Solid Electrolytes for Next-Generation

Spacecraft Vibration Isolation On the Ground

Behavior of a Single Molecule-UCLA's California NanoSystems Institute

Cleanroom Precision Vibration Isolation

Negative-stiffness vibration isolation is utilized to provide ultra-stability for multi-disciplined, nano-level research at UCLA's California NanoSystems Institute.

NASA/JWST Update: Custom James Webb Space Telescope Vibration Isolators Working Well

Audiophile Interests: The Doehmann Helix 1 Turntable

Minus K Technology Educational Giveaway to U.S. Colleges and Universities

Articles In The News

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Vibration Isolation News | What's Here for You:
With users at more than 300 leading universities and private and government laboratories in 51 countries, Vibration Isolation News is designed to keep our customers and friends up to date on the latest products and applications designed to facilitate better measurements and improved nanomanufacturing. We are an OEM supplier to leading manufacturers of scanning probe microscopes, micro-hardness testers and other sensitive instruments.

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The MK52

NASA Telescope Project

How Our Isolators Work

Spacecraft Vibration Isolation On the Ground

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