Optical Profilometry

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    Optical Profilometry (OP)

    Profilometry is the measurement of surface topography. It is used to measure surface roughness, coating thickness variation, flatness, surface curvature, texture, thin-film coating stress, etc. It’s a non-destructive and relatively fast method with a wide range of applications. A diamond stylus is scanned on the sample’s surface in a contact mode profilometer while stylus vertical movement is recorded. The more popular optical non-contact mode profilometers use a laser or optical beam. The light beam is split with one half directed to the surface and another half to the mirror. When these beams are recombined, the wavelength scale path difference produced by the topography variations causes interference. Contour information is extrapolated from the interpretation of the interference patterns.

    Several variants are available for more popular  profilometry,

    • Laser Confocal Microscopy 
    • Patterned Light and Wide Area 3D Measurements
    • White Light Interferometry

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      Common Uses

      • Roughness profile for automotive parts
      • Curvature analysis for thin-film stress measurement, adhesion, etc.
      • Coating surface characteristics
      • Corrosion on the metal surfaces
      • Fabric surface morphology
      • Imaging of cracks and other surface defects
      • Flip chip and other semiconductor packaging flatness and solder bumps
      • Measurement of the radius of curvature for optical parts and nanometric surface features
      • Development of high precision die

      Optical Profilometry (OP) Advantages

      • Does not require vacuum or special chamber
      • Can accommodate very large to small samples
      • Surface roughness precision in the sub-nanometer range


      • Considerable variation in the surface height hard to measure
      • A variation in the refractive index of films can produce erroneous thickness estimations


      • Semiconductors
      • Nanotechnology
      • Additive Manufacturing
      • Advanced Packaging
      • Advanced Materials
      • Automotive
      • LED and Display
      • Biomaterials
      • Optical Component Manufacturing

      Optical Profilometry (OP) Laboratories

      • Covalent Metrology
      • Evans Analytical Group – EAG
      • Surface Science Western
      • EP Laboratories

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        FAQ on Profilometry

        Our network of material testing labs regularly provides optical profilometry services for surface topography analysis, thickness measurements, 3D imaging, etc. 

        High-resolution profilometry starts from $100/sample.

        Optical profilometry is used to obtain surface profile information for virtually any material. Measurements of interest are surface characteristics like critical dimensions, step height, peak-to-valley, volume, and coating thickness mapping.