Paradigm Shifts in Surface Metrology. Part I. Historical Philosophy

X. Jiang, L. Blunt, P. J. Scott, D. J. Whitehouse

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

109 Citations (Scopus)


Surface texture and its measurement are becoming the most critical factors and important functionality indicators in the performance of high precision and nanoscale devices and components. Surface metrology as a discipline is currently undergoing a huge paradigm shift: from profile to areal characterization, from stochastic to structured surfaces, and from simple geometries to complex free-form geometries, all spanning the millimetre to sub-nanometre scales.This paper builds a complete philosophical framework for surface metrology through a review of the paradigm shifts that have occurred in the discipline of surface metrology, tracing the development of fundamental philosophies and techniques. The paper starts with a brief overview of the historical paradigm shifts and builds an up-to-date foundational philosophy, capable of rapid and effective development. The growth in interest in surface metrology stems mainly from the need to control the manufacture of armaments during the Second World War and the production of domestic goods and appliances since that time. The surfaces produced by manufacture seemed to offer the possibility of being useful for process control. Unfortunately, only a few tentative investigations had been carried out to establish usable relationships between the processes, the machine tools and the available surface parameters (with their limitations). Even fewer investigations had been carried out to relate surface geometry to the performance of manufactured products. The result was that the metrology was unprepared and, consequently, the progress was sporadic.This overall review is given in two parts. Part I focuses on the historical philosophy of surface metrology and Part II discusses the progress within the current paradigm shift.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2049-2070
Number of pages22
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences
Issue number2085
Publication statusPublished - 8 Sep 2007


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