• Open Access



This special issue presents articles that were selected from the first International Conference on Surface Metrology. The conference was held on the campus of Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) in Worcester, Massachusetts 26–28 October 2009. There were 40 presentations, with more than 80 people from eight different countries in attendance. The presentations included findings of art conservationists, anthropologists, archaeologists, food scientists, engineers, biomedical engineers, and physicists, all of whom had been measuring and analyzing surface topographies. It was the first time that researchers working in such a wide variety of fields gathered to discuss their common interests in surface metrology.

Surface Metrology is the measurement and analysis of surface geometries, usually at fine scales. Depending on the particular application, the scales of interest can vary by orders of magnitude, from nanometers to kilometers. Surface geometry often goes by different names in different disciplines, including names like texture, topography, and roughness. Interestingly, these geometries can have significant chaotic components at the scales of interest.

Many of these papers describe efforts to measure and characterize surface topographies in order to discriminate surfaces that have different histories or behaviors, and to correlate these surfaces with variables describing their treatment or performance. These characterizations can in turn foster innovative analyses, such as those inspired by fractal geometry, which can lead to enhanced understanding of both surface behavior and production.

As a result of the interdisciplinary nature of this conference, all the articles published in this conference have the potential to improve the level of surface metrology practiced in many disciplines. Moreover, people participating in these conferences and studying these articles are better prepared to become leaders in the use of surface metrology within their fields of application.

WPI's Surface Metrology Lab originally focused on the traditional applications of surface metrology in relation to mechanical, manufacturing, and materials engineering. However, during the course of our 20-year history, we have also worked with food scientists, geologists, and anthropologists. In this time, we have found that the surface metrology developed for use in one field could also be applied to problems in other fields. In short, we realized that everyone could benefit from a trans-disciplinary meeting of surface metrologists.

The attendees, authors, reviewers, and many people at WPI all helped to make the first International Conference on Surface Metrology and this special issue a success. Thank you all very much.

August 12, 2010