COVID-19: In these troubled times, NANOVEA devotes necessary resources to maintain all of the essential services you count on. Stay safe!

Category: Profilometry | Step Height and Thickness


Contour Measurement using Profilometer by NANOVEA

Rubber Tread Contour Measurement

Rubber Tread Contour Measurement

Learn More
















Rubber Tread Contour Measurement - NANOVEA Profiler

Prepared by



Like all materials, rubber’s coefficient of friction is related in part to its surface roughness. In vehicle tire applications, traction with the road is very important. Surface roughness and the tire’s treads both play a role in this. In this study, the rubber surface and tread’s roughness and dimensions are analyzed.





Unlike other techniques such as touch probes or interferometry, NANOVEA’s 3D Non-Contact Optical Profilers use axial chromatism to measure nearly any surface. 

The Profiler system’s open staging allows for a wide variety of sample sizes and requires zero sample preparation. Nano through macro range features can be detected during a single scan with zero influence from sample reflectivity or absorption. Plus, these profilers have the advanced ability to measure high surface angles without requiring software manipulation of results.

Easily measure any material: transparent, opaque, specular, diffusive, polished, rough etc. The measurement technique of the NANOVEA 3D Non-Contact Profilers provides an ideal, broad and user friendly capability to maximize surface studies along with the benefits of combined 2D & 3D capability.


In this application, we showcase the NANOVEA ST400, a 3D Non-Contact Optical Profiler measuring the surface and treads of a rubber tire.

A sample surface area large enough to represent the entire tire surface was selected at random for this study. 

To quantify the rubber’s characteristics, we used the NANOVEA Ultra 3D analysis software to measure the contour dimensions, depth, roughness and developed area of the surface.




The 3D View and False Color View of the treads show the value of mapping 3D surface designs. It provides users a straightforward tool to directly observe the size and shape of the treads from different angles. The Advanced Contour Analysis and Step Height Analysis are both extremely powerful tools for measuring precise dimensions of sample shapes and design




The rubber surface can be quantified in numerous ways using built-in software tools as shown in the following figures as examples. It can be observed that the surface roughness is 2.688 μm, and the developed area vs. projected area is 9.410 mm² vs. 8.997 mm². This information allows us to examine the relationship between surface finish and the traction of different rubber formulations or even rubber with varying degrees of surface wear.


In this application, we have shown how the NANOVEA 3D Non-Contact Optical Profiler can precisely characterize the surface roughness and tread dimensions of rubber.

The data shows a surface roughness of 2.69 ­µm and a developed area of 9.41 mm² with a projected area of 9 mm². Various dimensions and radii of the rubber treads were measured as well.

The information presented in this study can be used to compare the performance of rubber tires with di­fferent tread designs, formulations, or varying degrees of wear. The data shown here represents only a portion of the calculations available in the Ultra 3D analysis software.


Optical profilers

Mechanical Testers


Lab Services

Fish Scale Surface Analysis Using 3D Optical Profiler

Fish Scale Surface Analysis Using 3D Optical Profiler

Learn more




Fish Scales profilometer

Prepared by

Andrea Novitsky


The morphology, patterns, and other features of a fish scale are studied using the NANOVEA 3D Non-Contact Optical Profiler. The delicate nature of this biological sample along with its very small and high angled grooves also highlights the importance of the profiler’s non-contact technique. The grooves on the scale are called circuli, and can be studied to estimate the age of the fish, and even distinguish periods of different rates of growth, similar to the rings of a tree. This is very important information for the management of wild fish populations in order to prevent overfishing.

Importance of 3D Non-Contact Profilometry FOR BIOLOGICAL STUDIES

Unlike other techniques such as touch probes or interferometry, the 3D Non-Contact Optical Profiler, using axial chromatism, can measure nearly any surface. Sample sizes can vary widely due to open staging and there is no sample preparation needed. Nano through macro range features are obtained during a surface profile measurement with zero influence from sample reflectivity or absorption. The instrument provides an advanced ability to measure high surface angles with no software manipulation of the results. Any material can be easily measured, whether it’s transparent, opaque, specular, diffusive, polished or rough. The technique provides an ideal, broad and user friendly capability to maximize surface studies along with the benefits of combined 2D & 3D capabilities.


In this application, we showcase NANOVEA ST400, a 3D Non-Contact Profiler with a high-speed sensor, providing comprehensive analysis of the surface of a scale.

The instrument has been used to scan the entire sample, along with a higher resolution scan of the center area. The outer and inner side surface roughness of the scale was measured for comparison as well.



3D & 2D Surface Characterization of Outer Scale

The 3D View and False Color View of the outer scale show a complex structure similar to a finger print or the rings of a tree. This provides users a straightforward tool to directly observe the surface characterization of the scale from different angles. Various other measurements of the outer scale are shown along with the comparison of the outer and inner side of the scale.

Fish Scale Scan 3D View Profilometer
Fish Scale Scan Volume 3D Profilometer
Fish Scale Scan Step Height 3D Optical Profiler


Fish Scale Profilometer 3D Scanning


In this application, we have shown how the NANOVEA 3D Non-Contact Optical Profiler can characterize a fish scale in a variety of ways. 

The outer and inner surfaces of the scale can be easily distinguished by surface roughness alone, with roughness values of 15.92μm and 1.56μm respectively. Additionally, precise and accurate information can be learned about a fish scale by analyzing the grooves, or circuli, on the outer surface of the scale. The distance of bands of circuli from the center focus were measured, and the height of the circuli were also found to be approximately 58μm high on average. 

The data shown here represents only a portion of the calculations available in the analysis software.


Optical profilers

Mechanical Testers


Lab Services

Fresnel Lens Topography

Fresnel Lens Dimensions Using 3D Profilometry

Learn more




Prepared by

Duanjie Li & Benjamin Mell


A lens is an optical device of axial symmetry that transmits and
refracts light. A simple lens consists of a single optical component
for converging or diverging the light. Even though spherical surfaces are not ideal shape for making a lens, they are often used as the simplest shape which glass can be ground and polished to.

A Fresnel lens consists of a series of concentric rings, which are
thin parts of a simple lens with a width as small as a few thousandths of an inch. Fresnel lenses contain a large aperture and short focal length, with a compact design reducing the weight and volume of material required, compared to conventional lenses with the same optical properties. A very small amount of light is lost by absorption due to the thin geometry of the Fresnel lens.


Fresnel lenses are extensively employed in the automotive industry, lighthouses, solar energy and optical landing systems for
aircraft carriers. Molding or stamping the lenses out of transparent plastics can make their production cost-effective. Service quality of Fresnel lenses mostly depends on the precision and surface
quality of their concentric ring. Unlike a touch probe technique,
NANOVEA Optical Profilers perform 3D surface measurements
without touching the surface, avoiding the risk of making new
scratches. The Chromatic Light technique is ideal for precise scanning of complex shapes, such as lenses of different geometries.



Transparent plastic Fresnel lenses can be manufactured by molding or stamping. Accurate and efficient quality control is critical to reveal defective production molds or stamps. By measuring the height and pitch of the concentric rings, production variations can be detected by comparing the measured values against the specification values given by the manufacturer of the lens.

Precise measurement of the lens profile ensures that the molds or stamps are properly machined to fit manufacturer specifications. Moreover, the stamp could progressively wear out over time, causing it to lose its initial shape. Consistent deviation from the lens manufacturer specification is a positive indication that the mold needs to be replaced.


In this application, we showcase NANOVEA ST400, a 3D Non-Contact Profiler with a high-speed sensor, providing comprehensive 3D profile analysis of an optical component of a complex shape.

To demonstrate the remarkable capabilities of our Chromatic Light technology, the contour analysis is performed on a Fresnel lens.



The 2.3” x 2.3” acrylic Fresnel lens used for this study consists of 

a series of concentric rings and a complex serrated cross-section profile. 

It has a 1.5” focal length, 2.0” effective size diameter, 

125 grooves per inch, and an index of refraction of 1.49.

The NANOVEA ST400 scan of the Fresnel lens shows a noticeable increase in height of the concentric rings, moving outward from the center.


Height Representation




Dimensional Analysis of the Profile


In this application, we have showcased that the NANOVEA ST400 non-contact Optical Profiler accurately measures the surface topography of Fresnel lenses. 

The dimension of the height and pitch can be accurately determined from the complex serrated profile using NANOVEA analysis software. Users can effectively inspect the quality of the production molds or stamps by comparing the ring height and pitch dimensions of manufactured lenses against the ideal ring specification.

The data shown here represents only a portion of the calculations available in the analysis software. 

NANOVEA Optical Profilers measure virtually any surface in fields including Semiconductors, Microelectronics, Solar, Fiber Optics, Automotive, Aerospace, Metallurgy, Machining, Coatings, Pharmaceutical, Biomedical, Environmental and many others.


Optical profilers

Mechanical Testers


Lab Services

Understanding Coating Failures using Scratch Testing


Surface engineering of materials plays a significant role in a variety of functional applications, ranging from decorative appearance to protecting the substrates from wear, corrosion and other forms of attacks. An important and overriding factor that determines the quality and service lifetime of the coatings is their cohesive and adhesive strength.

Click here to read!

Surface Roughness and Features of a Solar Cell

Importance of Solar Panel Testing

Maximizing a solar cell’s energy absorption is key for the technology’s survival as a renewable resource. The multiple layers of coating and glass protection allow for the absorption, transmittance, and reflection of light that is necessary for the photovoltaic cells to function. Given that most consumer solar cells operate at 15-18% efficiency, optimizing their energy output is an ongoing battle.

Studies have shown that surface roughness plays a pivotal role in the reflectance of light. The initial layer of glass must be as smooth as possible to mitigate reflectance of light, but the subsequent layers do not follow this guideline. A degree of roughness is necessary at each coatings interface to another to increase the possibility of light scattering within their respective depletion zones and increase the absorption of light within the cell1. Optimizing the surface roughness in these regions allows the solar cell to operate to the best of its ability and with the Nanovea HS2000 High Speed Sensor, measuring surface roughness can be done quickly and accurately.

Measurement Objective

In this study we will display the capabilities of the Nanovea HS2000 High Speed Sensor by measuring the surface roughness and geometric features of a photovoltaic cell. For this demonstration a monocrystalline solar cell with no glass protection will be measured but the methodology can be used for various other applications.

Test Procedure and Procedures

The following test parameters were used to measure the surface of the solar cell.

Results and Discussion

Depicted below is the 2D false-color view of the solar cell and an area extraction of the surface with its respective height parameters. A Gaussian filter was applied to both surfaces and a more aggressive index was used to flatten the extracted area. This excludes form (or waviness) larger than the cut-off index, leaving behind features that represent the solar cell’s roughness.

A profile was taken perpendicular to the orientation of the gridlines to measure their geometric characteristics which is shown below. The gridline width, step height, and pitch can be measured for any specific location on the solar cell.


In this study we were able to display the Nanovea HS2000 Line Sensor’s ability to measure a monocrystalline photovoltaic cell’s surface roughness and features. With the ability to automate accurate measurements of multiple samples and set pass fail limits, the Nanovea HS2000 Line Sensor is a perfect choice for quality control inspections.


1 Scholtz, Lubomir. Ladanyi, Libor. Mullerova, Jarmila. “Influence of Surface Roughness on Optical Characteristics of Multilayer Solar Cells “ Advances in Electrical and Electronic Engineering, vol. 12, no. 6, 2014, pp. 631-638.

Rotative or Linear Wear & COF? (A Comprehensive Study Using the Nanovea Tribometer)

Wear is the process of removal and deformation of material on a surface as a result of mechanical action of the opposite surface1. It is influenced by a variety of factors, including unidirectional sliding, rolling, speed, temperature, and many others. The study of wear, tribology, spans many disciplines, from physics and chemistry to mechanical engineering and material science. The complex nature of wear requires isolated studies towards specific wear mechanisms or processes, such as adhesive wear, abrasive wear, surface fatigue, fretting wear and erosive wear2. However, “Industrial Wear” commonly involves multiple wear mechanisms occurring in synergy.

Linear reciprocating and Rotative (Pin on Disk) wear tests are two widely used ASTM compliant setups34for measuring sliding wear behaviors of materials. Since the wear rate value of any wear test method is often used to predict the relative ranking of material combinations, it is extremely important to conrm the repeatability of the wear rate measured using different test setups. This enables users to carefully consider the wear rate value reported in the literature, which is critical in understanding the tribological characteristics of materials.

Read More!

Portability and Flexibility of the Jr25 3D Non-contact Profilometer

Understanding and quantifying a sample’s surface is crucial for many applications including quality control and research. To study surfaces, profilometers are often used to scan and image samples. A large problem with conventional profilometry instruments is the inability to accommodate for non conventional samples. Difficulties in measuring non conventional samples can occur due to sample size, geometry, inability to move the sample, or other inconvenient sample preparations. Nanovea’s portable 3D non-contact profilometers, the JR series, is able to solve most of these problems with its ability to scan sample surfaces from varying angles and its portability.

Read about the Jr25 Non-contact Profilometer!

500nm Glass Step Height: Extreme Accuracy with Non-Contact Profilometry

Surface characterization are current topics undergoing intense study. The surfaces of materials are important since they are the regions where physical and chemical interactions between the material and environment occur. Thus, being able to image the surface with high resolution has been desirable, since it allows scientists to visually observe the smallest surface details. Common surface imaging data includes topography, roughness, lateral dimensions, and vertical dimensions. Identifying the load bearing surface, spacing and step height of fabricated microstructures, and defects on the surface are some applications that can be obtained from surface imaging. All surface imaging techniques, however, are not created equal.

500nm Glass Step Height: Extreme Accuracy with Non-Contact Profilometry

Wafer Coating Thickness Measurement Using 3D Profilometry

Wafer Coating Thickness Measurement is critical. Silicon wafers are widely used in the making of integrated circuits and other micro devices used in a vast number of industries. A constant demand for thinner and smoother wafers and wafer coatings makes the Nanovea 3D non-contact Profilometer a great tool to quantify coating thickness and roughness of just about any surface. The measurements in this article were taken from a coated wafer sample in order to demonstrate the capabilities of our 3D Non-Contact Profilometer.

Wafer Coating Thickness Measurement Using 3D Profilometry

Transparent Film on Transparent Substrate Measurement

The Nanovea PS50 Profilometer is used for roughness measurement, step height thickness and optical thickness of a thin transparent film on a transparent glass substrate. Step height will be obtained by measuring an area of the film and an area where the substrate is exposed for relative height difference, while optical thickness will be measured by using the Profilometer capability of measuring through the transparent film and detecting a reflecting both from the top surface of the film and the substrate simultaneously.

Transparent Film on Transparent Substrate Measurement Using 3D Profilometry

Want us to test your samples?

Please fill up our form and we will reach out to you soon!