For makers of computers, disk drives and other sophisticated technologies, a guiding principle is the smoother the surfaces of chips and other components, the better these devices and the products, themselves, will function.
So, some manufacturers might be surprised to learn that a fast and increasingly popular method for measuring surface texture can yield misleading results. As reported at recent conferences and in an upcoming issue of Applied Optics,* a team of National Institute of Standards and Technology researchers has found that roughness measurements made with white light interferometric microscopes, introduced in the early 1990s, differed by as much as 80 percent from those obtained with two other surface-profiling methods.
Interferometric microscopes are used to measure surface heights, lengths and spaces by analyzing the interference patterns created by two light beams--one reflected by a reference specimen and the other by the object of interest.
Mark Bello | EurekAlert!
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