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Int. J. Math. Tools Manulict.

Printed in Great Britain

Vol. 32, No. 1/2, pp. 233-238. 1992.

0890-6955/9255.00+ .00 Pergamon Press plc











J.D.GARRATT & D.J.NETTLETON Rank Taylor Hobson P.O. Box 36 2 North Star Road Leicester LE4 7JQ Summary This paper describss a production instrument which will measure very fine surface texture. It is a stylus profiling instrument, namely Nanostep, based on the NPL Nanosurf 2, which provides thermal stability in its "Zerodur" construction and a dynamic range of 50 nm to 50mm in its slideway/carriage/Irive design. Nanostep performance is discussed in respect of noise, straightness, profile and start position repeatability, the measurement of different grades of silicon slice and a very small step. I. INTRODUCTION There is an inc:~easing need to manufacture ultrafine surface~, less than Inm Rq, for applications in laany industries. Continued development, together with mlniaturisation in the fields of laser optics, electro optic devices, semi-conductors, computer memory devices and others have demanded this. Consequently the requirement to measure the roughness and profile of such surfaces has increased but to higher accuracies, over greater traverse lengths which increases workload and capacity requirements, and being easier for the user. In the 1960s the Rank Taylor Hobson Talystep instrument was developed to essentially measure the step heights of coating deposits of between 5rim and 100nm (Ref I). It is used today in its same mechanical form to measure some of the above applications with the aid of computer analysis. The main limitation areas are thermal instabilities, an arcuate scan length of only 2mm, and awkward workpiece setting up facilities. The National P~sical Laboratory in 1986 concentrated on improving the first two areas in their prototype instrument Nanosurf 2 (Ref 2), initially for the measurement of x-ray optical components (Ref 3). Rank Taylor Hobson have taken Nanosurf 2 (fig Is) in its prototype form and developed it into a production instrument, Nanostep. (fig Ib). 2. PRINCIPLES OF OPERATION (Fig 2) The construction of the instrument, within the direct measurement loop, is mainly of "Zerodur" glass ceramic which has a coefficient of expansion of 0.5 x 10 exp --7/degrees C, this ensures very good thermal stability. The workpiece is mounted on a three-point kinematic support on a levelling table (I), which in turn is mounted on a carriage (2). The carriage has dry polymeric pads kinematically positioned to form an interface with a h!.ghly polished precision slideway (3) providing a linear traverse of 5Omm. The large barrel micrometer (4) pushes the carriage along the slideway, via a slave carriage (5) providing an almcst non-influencing drive. The micrometer is d:ziven by a DC motor/gearbox, mounted on a cast iron base (6) and isolated from the structure by anti-vibration mounts. The micrometer is driven at measurement speeds of between 0.5 to 0.005 mm/s. The pick-up assembly (7) is attached to the column (8) and is moved into contact with the workpiece by a micrometer (9). During a measurement the micrometer (9), Fig I (a) The NPL Nanosurf 2 Instrument showing the Measuring Unit.

Fig I (b) The RTH Nanostep Instrument showing the Measuring Unit and Microscope viewing aid. the workpiece levelling micrometer (10) and the workpiece lateral movement micrometer (11) can be decoupled from the measurement loop. The only components within the direct measurement loop which are not constructed out of low




of the inside to ensure maximum accessibility to the workpiece, worktable and pick-up controls. The slideway is located kinematically on a cast iron plate at its points of minimum deflection. Vibration isolation to 15Hz is provided by antivibration feet underneath a granitan base. 3.2 The Worktable The worktable is supported on the carriage by five point contacts, one point being a wedge. Leaf springs provide the minimum necessary forces to ensure constant contact. The levelling micrometer pushes the wedge which tilts the worktable, and the lateral movement micrometer is positioned to ensure that the worktable does not twist as it is pushed or pulled. 3.3 The Drive The influence of the drive, due to vibration, on a measurement has only been detected at speeds of greater than 0.5 mm/sec. This has been consistent over the first eight instruments. Ball couplings are used to transmit the motion, as with Nanosurf 2, for measuring in the pushing direction. A pull back arrangement is added to Nanostep to provide return motion. A small amount of backlash is necessary between the two motions. 3.4 The Pick-up Assembly The pick-up assembly (fig 3) is located by two glass ceramic rollers into a groove on the column, and one roller onto a flat. This assembly does not just contain the transducer and stylus but also a self contained assembly to: (a) Warn the user, during a manual set-up, if the stylus goes into "overrange" where the stylus force suddenly increases by up to a hundred times. This is sensed by optc switch (I) and is adjusted by screw (2) and (b) lift the stylus clear of the surface, without using the micrometer, for both setting up and for fast automated return traverse. A DC motor rotates a cam (3), its position sensed by optosensor (4). The cam moves a lever (5) which lifts or lowers the transducer assembly. The transducer assembly is very similar to the Talystep instrument apart from certain material changes; Fig 4 shows this. The stop is bonded to the adaptor plate, as are the three rollers. The coil holders, in invar, are bonded to the bridge piece. The resulting assembly with the coil sub assemblies is held in position by ligament Y, biased such that the bridge piece contacts the

Fig 2 Nanostep: The Measuring Unit without covers.

Fig 3 Nanoetep: Pickup Assembly showing Transducer, Stylus and stylus lift mechanism. coefficient of expansion glass ceramic are the polymeric pads, the stylus, the transducer coil assembly and the workpiece. Measurement control and signal output are provided by a Data General DGIO computer. 3. MECHANICAL CONSTRUCTION 3.1 Main Structure Nanosurf 2 relies on the column being bonded to the slideway resulting in a very stiff structure but rather permanent if reworking is necessary. The column on Nanostep is a four piece bonded sub assembly which is then bolted to the slideway at three positions through hemispherical convex/concave washer pairs. These are lapped to each mating component to ensure maximum area contact, and therefore a fairly stiff kinematic construction, which can be easily assembled and taken apart. The pick-up assembly is positioned on the outside of the column front face instead

,:.: ?:'

~Spring pair 2

Spring ~ pour(l) ~

ceramic AL Alto

6: : : : : : : : : : F / / / / / / / / / / ~

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::: :::::.:.:~./.J Ligament palr Y Ligament p~ir X

: 11__~.--Tsra~sduce r


Diamond sty|us

Fig ~ Nanostep: Transducer Assembly Schematic

Measurement of Ultra-Fine Surfaces









I I I I ii Lif~JLwer L motor tvoits) I Lif~JLower

pos,uon Overrange i

Magn,fication . COMPUTER (manuaiswitch) ~ I




tiflJLower (error) LOGIC DRIVE

Overrancje (error}





=1Motor (volts}



Encder ?gnal! I

L.... R~set -I

TraverseSoeed (manual sw~tch) Data Loq (start an~ finish) Measurement


A system schematic is shown in Fig 5. A microprocessor is used in the electronic unit to control the Drive Motor, to detect error conditions and communicate with the computer. The encoder signal is used to accurately control the speed of the traverse motor over the full speed range of 3.5 mm/s (fast set up) to 5 um/s. This corresponds to an encoder pulse rate of IOSKHz to 150Hz. Accurate long term and short term speed control is especially required as datalogging is temporal and not spatial. The microprocessor also monitors the number of pulses during a automatic return measurement sequence, to give a start position repeatability of better than 5um. A typical automatic return measurement sequence consists of:a) b) c) d) e) f) g) h) i) Motor ramps up to speed Datalog (start) Datalog (finish) Motor speed ramps down and stops Stylus lifts off workpiece Motor reverses at set up speed and stops beyond the start position Stylus lowers onto the workpiece Motor traverses forward to remove backlash Measurement complete

Fig 5 Nanostep: Instrument System Schematic. stop. These ligaments provide the "overrange". The transducer st Bm is an extruded rod with a tolerance of 20um on diameter. The stylus is located kinematics~lly onto the transducer stem where only the diamond contacts the tip of the stem. The stylus completes the measurement loop in the transducer assemb~T. The ligament pair X provides the linear stylus motion. A hair spring and coil ~prlng (I) provide a variable stylus force between I and 70 mg. The weight of the whole assembly is substantially greater than that of Nanostep 2. Two springs (2) support the weight and move with the micrometer. Two spring pairs (3) lightly pull the assembly back onto its location face. Although the direct measurement loop Is mostly constructed from low expansion materials, the springs will indirectly influence the measurement loop to a lesser extent.

The gauge and gauging board allow a maximum range of 12um and, with magnification switching, a meaningful ultimate system resolution of 200pm. In order that measurements can be achieved at a particular magnification levelling of the workpiece is necessary. This is achieved by using a software levelling aid which tells the operator in which direction and how far to turn the levelling micrometer. Mechanical levelling sensitivity is in the order of I part in 10 exp

The computer software allows the measurement data to be interrogated by means of cursors, and the measurement of step height is possible as well as surface texture, profile and parameters.

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Fig 6 Results:

Measurement of an NPL super polished spectrosil blank Traverse Length = 5Oum; Speed = Sum/s; Stylus = 2um conisphere, 5mg force. Unfiltered assessment: Rt = 0.67rim; Rq = O.SOnm.


Fig 7 Results: Start up Characteristic






Instrument noise both electrical and mechanical limit the usefulness of an instrument in measuring very fine surfaces. Ref 4. On instruments to date static noise has been in the region of 0.10 to 0.12 nm Rq over a 10 second

period. Measurement of a superfine polished piece of spectrosil, polished at NPL, gives an Rq value of 0.10nm (Fig 6). This agreed with the value obtained at NPL using Nanostep 2. As the surface must have a greater Rq value than zero, it appears that the dynamic noise of the system is less than the static noise; the movement of the carriage providing a damping effect?

(nm} (a)
0 L ,. . , ~,.






flat. = 500um/s; force. Rt = 19.5nm Rt = 18.7nm



(mm) 50

8 Results:

Straightness on Zerodur glass Traverse length = 50mm; speed Stylus = 2um conisphere, 10mg Unfiltered assessment: a) b)





+1'5 0 -1"51 0






Fig 9 Results:

Start position and profile repeatability on Zerodur glass flat. Traverse length = 50um; speed = a) & b) 5um/s; c) 50um/e; Stylus = 2um cenisphere, 5mg force. Unfiltered assessment: a) Rt = 2.8nm; Rq = 0.5nm b) Rt = 2.65nm; Rq = 0.49nm c) Rt = 3.15nm; Rq = 0.52nm

Measurement of Ultra-Fine Surfaces


~.2 Carriage/Slideway start up characteristics Fig 7 shows the start up and stop characteristic. A silica workpie~e was used; therefore its indentation by the stylus would have some contribution to this characteristic. There is an apparent carriage rise of less than 2 nm upon start-up. This has been typical from instrument to instrument and compares favourablywith that from Nanosurf 2. ~.3 Straightness Fig 8 shows comparisons between straightness profiles taken 30 minutes apart, over the full 50mm traverse. Trace repeatability shows good thermal stability. The cozponent was a "Zerodur" optical flat. To date two instruments have displayed a sinusoidal straightness form. These were manufactured at one company. The other instruments have showed a conw~x form and were manufactured at another company ~aere polishing techniques were probably different. However the Rt values of all straightness trace~ were of the same order.

~.4 Start Position and Profile Repeatability Fig 9 shows results from three traverses over the Zerodur optical flat mentioned above, which has a typical standard optical polished finish. The traverse length is only 50 um enabling the fine detail to be examined. The traverses are performed using the automatic measurement sequence explained in section 4. Fig 9a and 9b are results taken using a traverse speed of 5 um/s and show typical instrument repeatability, for both profile and start position

(I urn).
Fig 9c is a result taken using a traverse speed of 50um/s. Profile repeatability is again very good, with an expected small increase in Rt value. The start position is different because each traverse speed requires a slightly different "run up" time before datalogging commences. These results show not just how good velocity and


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~.o q (b), ,





Fig 10 Results:




(p m)


Measurement of a 100mm dia. silicon slice. Traverse length = SOum; speed = 5um/s; Stylus = 0.1um x 2.5um chisel, 2mg force. Unfiltered assessment, 8Hz low pass filter. a) Rt = 0.7nm; Rq b) Rt = 1.3nm; Rq c) Rt = 3.3nm; Rq d) Rt = 6.3nm; Rq

= = = =

0.13nm 0.19nm 0.64nm 1.05nm



(nm) *7

Fig 11 Results:







Measurement of the etched step on a piece of optical glass. Taken from a Traverse length = 250um; speed = 5um/s; Stylus = 2um conisphere, 5mg force.

position control of the motor drive is but also the integrity of the NPL slideway/carrlage design. 5.5 Other Applications One industry where optical polishing is of prime importance is the semiconductor industry where the smoother the surface of a silicon slice the more information can be packed onto a particular area. Fig 10 shows results from four different grades with controlled finish. The traverse length is 80 u m, speed 5 um/s and the stylus tip size is 0.1 um x 2.5 um. These results are typical for that particular slice. The difference in grades are immediately apparent, profile a) being the smoothest and flattest. A second result is one of a fine step which has been etched into a piece of glass. This is shown in Fig 11 where the step is nominally 8nm deep. This shows very good side definition, but to give better depth definition the substrate requires to be polished to better limits. 6 CONCLUSION AND ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS This has presented an opportunity to show the successful development of a prototype instrument "Nanosurf 2" into a production instrument "Nanostep". This shows the soundness of the

original hasic concepts, in continued performance repeatability. The Authors wish to thank the Director and General Manager of Rank Taylor Hobson Limited for permitting publication of this paper, and acknowledge the contribution of the National Physical Laboratory and of their colleagues to this work. 7. REFERENCES [I] Dagnall H 1980 Explaining surface texture. Rank Taylor Nobson Publication No. 600-7, pp111-3. Lindsey K, Smith S.T, & Robbie C. J, 1988 Sub nanometre surface texture and profile measurement with Nanosurf 2, Ann. CIRP 37, 519-22. Frank A 1984 X-ray optics - a challenge to precision engineering. Proc.lnt.Symp. on Quality Control in Production (Tokyo: Japanese Society of PreclsionEngineers) pp 8-17. Whitehouse D.J 1975 Some ultimate limits on the measurement of surfaces using stylus techniques. Meas. Control 8 147-51.