National Physical Laboratory

Microstructured Surfaces

Metrological AFM
Metrological Atomic Force Microscope (MAFM)

NPL provides a one-stop service for the characterisation of the form and texture of surfaces through an extensive range of facilities. NPL-designed instruments, such as the Areal Instrument, Metrological Atomic Force Microscope (MAFM) and NanoSurf IV, provide the highest level of accuracy. In addition to these unique capabilities, an extensive range of commercial instruments, including a Taylor Hobson scanning white light interferometer, an Alicona InfiniteFocus microscope and Olympus LEXT confocal microscope, is available to support our customers.

To assist customers with worldwide acceptability of their own measurements, NPL delivers traceable calibrations of artefacts, such as pitch and height standards. These measurements are based on the purpose-built Metrological Atomic Force Microscope (MAFM) and NanoSurf IV instruments.

The key features of the MAFM are:

  • Laser interferometers to provide traceable measurement of displacement in all three axes
  • A measurement range in x and y of 100 micrometres
  • Best measurement uncertainties of ± 0.2 nm for pitch and ± 0.4 nm for height

The key features of NanoSurf IV are:

  • Laser interferometers to provide displacement measurements in both the vertical and horizontal axes
  • Traceable measurements of surface texture with an expanded uncertainty (95% confidence) of 1.3 nm
  • A prismatic slideway with a maximum traverse length of 100 mm
  • A diamond-tipped stylus to trace the topography of a surface
  • A metrology frame and scanning stage constructed from materials of low thermal expansion coefficient
  • Determination of all ISO 4287 (1997) surface texture parameters
  • Measurement of Type A to E material artefacts as described in ISO 5436-1 (2000)


Customer Service tel: +44 20 8943 8631

Last Updated: 9 Aug 2012
Created: 1 Feb 2011


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