Science of Surface Metrology, Our History, and Our Facilities
What is Surface Metrology?

Surface metrology is studying measurement, analysis, and characterization of surface topographies, or textures, including roughness. It is important in a wide variety of fields and situations including adhesion, biological growth, catalysis, corrosion, cleanability, friction, fracture, flow, forensics, geography, heat transfer, mass transfer, oceanography, scattering, wear, and wetting. These impact practically all engineering disciplines and many sciences. they include scales from nanometers to kilometers.


  Our History

WPI’s Surface Metrology Lab was founded over 25 years ago by Prof. Christopher Brown. We develop and disseminate methods for learning fow to distinguish surface topographies, and how they influence performance and are influenced by processing. These are applied to many fields in science, engineering, art, and conservation.

We have developed several multiscale geometric analyses and characterization. Using these we discovered strong correlations with processing and performance, and confident discriminations of surfaces that perform or were processed differently. We have developed, patented, and standardized several new multiscale geometric characterization parameters, including length, area, and volume. We are working on curvature. We have found strong function correlations with topographies, notably friction, adhesion, fatigue limit, and wetting.

The lab has participated in research in a broad range of applications, including food science, pavement, sports engineering, tribology, and manufacturing, as well as physical anthropolgy, archaeology, and forensics. The lab participates in standards work with ASTM, ASME, and ISO. The lab’s work appears in over one hundred publcations and has been cited in hundreds of others.


  Our Facilities

We are fortunate to have use of a Sensofar X neox measurement microscope, a Mahr Federal stylus profiler, and state-of-the-art software from Digital Surf for analyzing and characterizing topographies. It is on the WPI main campus in 243 Washburn Building, where it shares 528 sq ft with Sports Engineering.