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We demonstrate the use of a piezoelectric actuator to apply, at low temperatures, uniaxial stress in the plane of a two-dimensional electron system confined to a modulation-doped AlAs quantum well. Via the application of stress, which can be tuned in situ and continuously, we control the energies and occupations of the conduction-band minima and the electronic properties of the electron system. We also report measurements of the longitudinal and transverse strain versus bias for the actuator at 300, 77, and 4.2 K. A pronounced hysteresis is observed at 300 and 77 K, while at 4.2 K, strain is nearly linear and shows very little hysteresis with the applied bias. © 2003 American Institute of Physics.