When you're trying to position a beam of light or laser beam, the last thing you need is for the beam to keep shaking. That can ruin your experiment or your project no matter how well planned the rest of it is. Jitter is common and almost expected, but it doesn't have to be inevitable. Careful inspection of the equipment can show you what's causing most, if not all, of the jitter.
The most likely cause of the jitter is the regular vibrations from the rest of the equipment. If anything on the equipment shakes, such as a motor, the vibrations can transfer from part to part to part all the way down to the light source. Stabilizing the machinery by using vibration-damping pads, secure restraints, and anti-vibration nuts and bolts can help eliminate a lot of the problem.
One thing to remember is that vibrations can travel far. It could be that the vibrations affecting the optics are coming from nearby machinery, so look at stabilizing that, too.
Step Away from the Parts
Have you ever looked for your glasses only to find them on top of your head? The same absentmindedness can strike when using the equipment. In other words, make sure you're not touching any part of the equipment. A fairly substantial cause of jitter is human error, mainly you holding onto or touching some part of the equipment with shaky hands. Whether or not you're touching the equipment should seem like the easiest thing to determine, but the issue can happen inadvertently, much like searching for those glasses when you already have them. Embarrassing as it is, it's better to check that there are a few inches between you and the machinery.
Use a Fast-Steering Mirror
If you can't prevent all jitter, you can compensate for some of it. Using a fast-steering mirror can help readjust the machinery so that any jitter is countered and the resulting beam is steady. The mirror takes the jitter into account and rotates to eliminate differences in beam and mirror positioning to produce a steadier beam.
If none of these options stops or compensates for the jitter, you should get the machinery inspected. There is a point where the amount of jitter should not be enough to affect the project. You may need to try another fast-steering mirror as well. Manufacturers will be able to help you find the right mirror.
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