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Fish Scale Surface Analysis Using 3D Optical Profiler

Fish Scale Surface Analysis Using 3D Optical Profiler

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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.


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