3D Surface Roughness and Wear Measurement, Analysis and Inspection

Smart Phones and Space Telescopes

Q: What do your cell phone and the Webb Space Telescope have in common?

A: The surface finish of their optics!

The glass surface of most smart phones boasts a surface finish that’s on par with the finish on the Webb’s primary mirror segments. But while there’s only one Webb Space Telescope, there are billions of smart phones screens in use today!

Here is an older phone that has seen quite a few years of service:

We measured the surface texture of this phone’s screen at various magnifications. The measurement below (taken at 50X with a Bruker NPFlex 3D optical profiler) shows sub-nanometer average roughness (Sa) across the field of view:

surface finish (surface roughness) of smart phone screen

Of course, the amazing technology in a smart phone screen extends beyond the surface texture of the glass. The screen is also coated with electrically conductive materials (often indium-tin-oxide) that are both transparent and durable.  Every time you use your phone, it’s a testament to the technology, materials, and manufacturing methods behind the scenes (and screens!)—as well as measurement technologies such as optical profiling that help keep it all within spec.

Need help with measuring your precision surfaces? Contact us today—we are here to help!