This paper presents evaluation results of the characteristics of the angle sensor based on the laser autocollimation method for small tilt angle detection of a precision linear stage. The sensor consists of a laser diode (LD) as the light source, and a quadrant photodiode (QPD) as the position-sensing detector. A small plane mirror is mounted on the moving table of the stage as a target mirror for the sensor. This optical system has advantages of high sensitivity, fast response speed and the ability for two-axis angle detection. On the other hand, the sensitivity of the sensor is determined by the size of the optical spot focused on the QPD, which is a function of the diameter of the laser beam projected onto the target mirror. Because the diameter is influenced by the divergence of the laser beam, this paper focuses on the relationship between the sensor sensitivity and the moving position of the target mirror (sensor working distance) over the moving stroke of the stage. The main error components that influence the sensor sensitivity are discussed and the optimal conditions of the optical system of the sensor are analyzed. The experimental result about evaluation of the effective working distance is also presented.
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