National Physical Laboratory

NanoSurf IV Facility for Traceable 2-D Surface Topography

NPL provides traceable measurements of surface texture with an expanded uncertainty (95% confidence) of 1.3 nm. This measurement service is based on NanoSurf IV, developed at NPL, which has been designed to make traceable measurements of surface features. The facility also provides traceability for reference standards, such as step height standards periodic samples and samples with random surface texture, that are used to calibrate other surface texture measuring instruments.

Key features of NanoSurf IV are:

  • Laser interferometers to provide displacement measurements in both the vertical and horizontal axes.
  • Prismatic slideway with a maximum traverse length of 100 mm.
  • Diamond-tipped stylus to trace the topography of a surface.
  • Metrology frame and scanning stage constructed from materials of low thermal expansion coefficient.
  • Software capable of calculating all ISO 4287 (1997) surface texture parameters and the ability to measure and/or supply Type A to E material artefacts as described in ISO 5436-1 (2000).

The vertical range of NanoSurf IV is 10 ┬Ám and measurements along the vertical and horizontal axes are directly traceable to the realisation of the metre.

NPL can also supply calibrated ISO 5436 transfer artefacts upon request.


  • Leach, R K Traceable measurement of surface texture at the National Physical Laboratory using NanoSurf IV. Meas. Sci. Technol., 2000, 11, 1162-1173.
  • Leach, R K The measurement of surface texture using stylus instruments. Measurement Good Practice Guide No. 37, July 2001.
  • Leach, R K, Haycocks, J, Jackson, K, Lewis, A, Oldfield, S, Yacoot, A Advances in traceable nanometrology at the National Physical Laboratory. Nanotechnology, 2001, 12, R1-R6.
  • Leach, R K Some issues of traceability in the field of surface topography measurement. Wear, 2004, 257, 1246-1249.
  • Blunt, L*, Jiang, X*, Xiao, S*, Li, T*, Feng, X*, Brennan, J*, Scott, P*, Leach, R K, Harris, P M, Parkin, G I Development and dissemination of SOFTGAUGES for surface topography. Centre for Precision Technologies, University of Huddersfield, July 2005.
  • Blunt, L*, Jiang, X*, Leach, R K, Harris, P M, Scott, P* The development of user-friendly software measurement standards for surface topography software assessment. Proceedings 10th International Conference on Metrology and Properties of Engineering Surfaces, St Ettiane, France, 4-7 July 2005, 105-111.
  • Leach, R K, Chetwynd, D*, Blunt, L*, Haycocks, J, Harris, P M, Jackson, K, Oldfield, S, Reilly, S Recent advances in traceable nanoscale dimension and force metrology in the UK. Meas. Sci. Technol., 2006, 17, 467-476.


Customer Service tel: +44 20 8943 8631

Last Updated: 18 Aug 2015
Created: 13 Jul 2010


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