High-aspect-ratio features

Non-contact measurement of high-aspect-ratio surface features

Novacam 3D metrology systems reliably characterize surfaces with high-aspect-ratio features such as steps, grooves, channels, and trenches.

The systems offer:

  • Non-contact, collinear scanning: the emitted and received light signals travel along an identical path. No triangulation is necessary
  • High speed surface acquisition: 2,100 to 100,000 3D points/sec and higher
  • Sub-micron resolution
  • Higher sensitivity than triangulation sensors and color confocal systems

Fuel cell bipolar plate with high-aspect-ratio channels

Advantages of measuring with fiber-based probes

Novacam metrology systems combine low-coherence interferometry (LCI) technology with fiber-based modular design, meaning that:

  • Measurements are done with fiber-based non-contact optical probes
  • The data acquired is sent over an optical fiber, up to a km long, to the signal-processing detector box (interferometer).

Advantages of Novacam’s design include:

See a more complete list of advantages of our fiber-based LCI systems.


Novacam fiber-based optical probes come in many designs and models – standard, small-diameter, rotational, or galvo-scanner – to satisfy the majority of high-precision inspection applications.

Example in semi-conductor sector

Application: measurement of CMP (chemical mechanical polishing) pads, which are used for wafer polishing.  CMP pads are costly tools made of porous polymeric material and patterned with high-aspect channels. The position, width, and height of the channels critically affects the CMP pad polishing performance.

Novacam’s metrology systems are used to measure the position, width, and height of the CMP pad channels during the pad conditioning process. The measurement process is integrated right into the CMP pad conditioning station.  The high-precision measurements obtained not only characterize the level of conditioning but also help optimize the timing of drill bit replacement, contributing to overall process improvement.

Metrology systems: Microcam Profilometers (for line scanning) or  SurfaceInspect (for area scanning)

Example in aerospace sector

Application: EDM-machined blind seal slots on jet engine turbine stator blades.  The slots are ~30 mm (1.2”) long, 0.4 mm (0.0157”) wide and ~1.8 mm (0.07”) deep.

Metrology system: SurfaceInspect

More details: 3D metrology for EDM and laser machining application page

Inspection of EDM slot. This lower-density point cloud image shows the 10 profiles (~400 measurements each) acquired along a 10 mm of length of the slot.

Inspection of EDM slot. This high-density point cloud image shows the 1,000 profiles (~400 measurements each) acquired along a 10 mm of length of the slot.

Example in metal machining / tool maintenance sector

Application: edge radius measurement

Measurement system: EdgeInspect

More details: Edge radius measurement application page

 Video:  “Edge radius measurement” (00:01:53)

Height image of drill bit edge

Height image of drill bit edge


Intensity image of drill bit edge

Intensity image of drill bit edge

Drill bit measurements and analysis. Colour-coded deviation map of the edge sharpness. Users may choose to view edge radii measurements at various points of analysis.

Other sectors

Novacam systems measure surfaces with high-aspect-ratio features in many high-precision industries:

  • Aerospace: blisks (integrally bladed rotors or IBRs), turbines, cooling holes
  • Automotive: fuel injector nozzles
  • Dental: dental restoration inspection
  • Electronics
  • Fuel and solar cell production: bipolar plates
  • Medical devices: tool edges,  orthopedic implants with inner threads or features
  • Micro-machining: edges, holes, O-ring grooves
  • Tool production: cutting tool fabrication and quality control

Related links

 Contact us or request free sample analysis to see if Novacam metrology systems are suitable for your application