The application of fractional order control for an air-based contactless actuation system

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Industry pushes towards ever faster and more accurate production of thin substrates. Contactless positioning offers advantages, especially in terms of risk of breakage and contamination. A system is considered designed for contactless positioning by floating a silicon wafer on a thin film of air. This paper focuses on the design of a control system, including actuators, sensors and control method, suitable for this purpose. Two cascaded control loops, with decoupled SISO controllers, are implemented for this moving mass controlled on a mass-spring system, which can be modelled as a fourth order system. The SISO controllers are first designed with classic loopshaping tools, which are then modified using fractional control. Two arguments based on examples in this system are given for the application of fractional control. Firstly, to increase the bandwidth of a regular mass-spring system, and secondly to control a plant which behaves fundamentally fractional, such as the moving mass in this cascaded fourth order
system. By merely the application of fractionality, the bandwidths are extended by 14.6 % and 62 %, for the inner and outer loop respectively. A closed-loop positioning bandwidth of the wafer of 60 Hz is achieved, resulting in a positioning error of 104 nm (2s value), which is limited by sensor noise and
pressure disturbances. This paper shows how the extension of classic loopshaping tools with fractional control can directly improve the performance, without adding to the complicatedness of the control system. Moreover it demonstrates a working concept of a novel type of contactless actuator.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)172-183
JournalISA Transactions
Volume82 (2018)
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Fractional order control
  • Contactless actuation

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