The emergence of nano-technology, precision machining and the overriding goals of higher quality and better reliability are increasing the importance of surface profiling instrumentation. The goal of this paper is to provide an overview of the available instrumentation including brief discussions of their operation, their advantages and limitations, and their primary applications. The instruments discussed are primarily for measuring microscopic surface structure with spatial frequencies in the 0.1 - 1000 lines per millimeter range. Vertical resolution ranges from 100 nm on the least sensitive instruments to 0.01 nm on one of the high precision optical instruments.

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