Knowledge Base

Welcome to the Lambda Knowledge Base

  1. Alignment

    Description: Alignment of parts or machinery using a laser spot, cross or line

    Recommended Product: Laserex Laser Diode Modules

    Several properties of lasers make them perfect for alignment applications. They emit coherent light that can be well collimated into a straight, continuous, highly visible beam. Wherever high accuracy alignment of a sample, machine part etc is needed, the laser is the perfect tool.

    The addition of a line generating optic will provide a thin light sheet that can further be used for 3D alignment and surface profiling. Below are some examples of were our lasers are used in industrial, automotive and manufacturing environments.


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  2. Microscopic investigation of a metallurgical mount

    Description: The Phenom offers a special metallurgical mount holder to support 1¼ inch (~32 mm) samples.

    Recommended Product: Phenom G2 Desktop Scanning Electron Microscope

    Embedding and polishing are common techniques used to create flat samples for microscopic investigation. Often the samples are embedded in a resin with a standard diameter of 1 inch. The Phenom™ offers a special metallurgical mount holder to support 1¼ inch (~32 mm) samples.

    The purpose of embedding is to protect fragile or coated materials during preparation and to obtain good edge retention. Embedding is also used to produce specimens of a uniform size, like minerals, clay or other particles and can also be used to section a material and investigate its interior.


    Mechanical preparation is the most common method for preparing materialographic/ metallographic samples for microscopic examination. Abrasive particles are used in successively finer steps to remove material from the surface, until the required result is reached.

    Phenom App Metallurgical2

    The preparation of materialographic/metallographic samples for examination by light microscopy or SEM for image analysis and hardness testing is often a specialist task. Increasingly, however, more fully automatic systems are available to make thing easier.

    It can take a considerable time to section, grind, mount and polish a sample.

    Grinding and Polishing

    Grinding removes saw marks and levels and cleans the surface of the specimen. Polishing eliminates the artifacts of grinding but removes very little material. Grinding uses fixed abrasives – the abrasive particles are bonded to the paper or plates – for fast material removal. Polishing uses abrasive particles in a liquid which are suspended on a cloth.

    In summary, cutting the sample will take up to 1 hour, depending on the hardness. The grinding and polishing step may take approximately 2 – 2½ hours.

    Phenom App Metallurgical2 1
    Figure 1. Image of a polished surface of Glass,left in the image, in contact with Glass Furnace construction material (ZAC), right in the image. The image is taken at 1000x in compositional mode. Different phases will appear in the image with different grey levels.
    Phenom App Metallurgical2 2
    Figure 2. Special holder to support the polished metallurgical mounts up to 1.25 inch.

    Phenom App Metallurgical2 3
    Figure 3. Glass Furnace diffusion zone. The Zirconium (Zr) particles appear white in the image, the Aluminum (Al) granules are dark grey. The glass phase (on the left side) is diffusing into the granules.
    Phenom App Metallurgical2 4
    Figure 4. Image taken in topographical mode showing the difference in height between the phases after polishing.

    To speak with a Sales & Applications Engineer please call 01582 764334 or click here to email.
  3. Fibre classification with the Phenom

    Description: The Phenom™ has been used to investigate several different cutting edge applications in industries covering filtration, medical equipment, insulation, aerospace, and nanotechnology.

    Recommended Product: Phenom G2 Desktop Scanning Electron Microscope

    General Construction

    The ability to observe general construction reveals information about fiber interaction, density, and count. Failure analysis of carbon fiberslike the one found in Figure 1 can help researchers improve the construction of their design to yield a stronger and lighter product.


    Fiber diameters can range from the micron to the nano scale. The diameters of fiberscan help forensics scientists identify crime scene evidence (figure3) as well as provide a quality control measurement for high-tech filtration devices (figure 4).


    Morphology is another characteristic that gives insight into manufacturing quality, surface roughness, and even fiberstrength. The images below depict fiberswith very different surface morphologies. The different morphologies of these fibersaffect their strength, interaction volume, absorption rate, and heat resistance.

    Fibres 01
    Figure 1. Fractured edge of a multilayered carbon fiber sample.
    Fibres 02
    Figure 2. Elastic fibers embedded in nylon.

    Fibres 03
    Figure 3. A hairs diameter and scale pattern can help crime scene investigators identify evidence in a forensics setting. The hair above is human and approximately 60 µm in diameter.
    Fibres 04
    Figure 4. The Phenom can be used to view and measure fibers at the nano-scale. This image shows fibers found in a cutting edgfiltration system. This image was taken at the Phenoms peak magnification range and depicts fibers as thin as 50 nm in diamet.

    Fibres 0507
    Figures 5-7. Industrial grade fibers magnified at 2,400 - 6,000x. These types of fibers are used in applications like insulatiofiltration, and textiles.

    To speak with a Sales & Applications Engineer please call 01582 764334 or click here to email.
  4. Diatoms tell the truth about our environment

    Description: The Phenom™ proves to be a valuable and cost-effective instrument for imaging and classification of diatoms at the Dutch Water Treatment & Control Laboratories.

    Recommended Product: Phenom G2 Desktop Scanning Electron Microscope

    Diatoms provide information on both the biological integrity of the ecosystem and those factors likely to be causing any observed changes. Researchers are rapidly developing new techniques for using diatoms to provide even more quantitative and accurate inferences of ecosystem condition, and diatoms are being included in a growing number of local and regional-scale monitoring programs. The Phenom™ proves to be a valuable and cost-effective instrument for imaging and classification of diatoms at the Dutch Water Treatment & Control Laboratories.

    Diatoms as water quality indicators

    Diatoms are single-cell algae which can be identified from the shape of their skeleton. Diatoms are divided into two groups based on overall symmetry of the cell walls; radially symmetrical forms are informally called “centric” diatoms while bilaterally symmetrical forms are referred to as “pennate” diatoms. One remarkable aspect of these organisms is that they have cell walls made of glass (silicon dioxide). The glass cell walls are perforated and ornamented with many holes, which are usually arranged in definite patterns. The nature of these perforations as well as their orientation and densities help in the identification of diatom species.

    diatoms 1
    Diatoms have cell walls which are perforated and ornamented with many holes.

    They live in all our lakes and rivers and are of interest to aquatic system managers as indicators of water quality – acidity, salinity, organic pollution load and pollutant types. There are more than 7000 species living in fresh and brackish water, population mix and species diversity reflecting environmental conditions. They supplement chemical analysis, covering too short a time span, with additional and some-times more reliable information. Their continually changing classification must be mastered since more than 400 new taxons are described each year.

    Long term perspective

    Although diatoms are widely distributed as a group, most species occur only in habitats with specific physical, chemical, and biological characteristics. Ecologists have long made practical use of this habitat specificity by collecting and analyzing individual species and community data to determine the quality or condition of aquatic habitats. Both long-term monitoring of specific lake and stream habitats and analysis of diatom remains (that become part of the sedimentary record of lakes) allow scientists to obtain a unique long-term historical perspective on these ecosystems. This perspective is especially valuable in assessing the long-term effects of human activities on aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems.


    Charles, D.F., R.W. Battarbee, I. Renberg, H. Van Dam, and J.P. Smol. 1989.Paleoecological analysis of lake acidification trends in North America and Europe using diatoms and chrysophytes. 
    Pages 207-276 in S.A. Norton, S.E. Lindberg, and A.L. Page, eds. Acidic precipitation. Soils, aquatic processes, and lake acidification. Vol. 4. Springer-Verlag, New York.


    This application note has been created with the help from 
    Mr. B. Pex, Waterboard Roer & Overmaas, The Netherlands.

    diatoms 2
    Detail of the cell wall of a diatom.
    diatoms 3
    Diatoms in their natural aquatic habitat.

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  5. Understanding Surface Texture Parameters

    Every part’s surface is made up of texture and roughness which varies due to manufacturing techniques and the part structure itself. To understand a component’s surface and to control the manufacturing process to the degree required in today’s modern world, it is necessary to quantify the surface in both two and three dimensions.

    Surface texture parameters can be grouped into these basic categories: Roughness, Waviness, Spacing, and Hybrid.

    Stitched image

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  6. How do Interferometers work?

    An Introduction to Zygo Metrology Solutions for improving product quality and reducing cost

    The Zygo Metrology Group at Lambda Photometrics delivers precision industrial metrology solutions for QA and Statistical Process Control in manufacturing to help reduce the cost of defects and ensure your customers receive the best possible engineered components. Non-contact metrology from Zygo for manufacturing and R&D provides you with the tools to do the job quickly and effectively whilst providing the flexibility to adapt to your needs as your customers demands change. At Lambda Photometrics we recognise that our customers are faced with growing pressure to improve the surface form, finish and performance of components they manufacture and we have developed leading edge metrology solutions to help deliver such capabilities to you. Our high speed and precision metrology tools are capable of measuring: 3D surface profiles, roughness, texture and machining marks, step height, features, cone angles, wear volume, flatness, surface form, radius of curvature and many other parameters associated with precision engineered components, optics and MEMS (micro-electro-mechanical systems).

    A wide range of industry sectors including automotive, medical, optics, IT, semiconductor, aerospace and precision engineering have benefited from working with Lambda Photometrics:

  7. Improved component quality
  8. Reduced waste
  9. Reputation for performance and quality from 1000’s of installed units worldwide
  10. Established over 35 years with experience to match
  11. Manufacturing and R&D metrology solutions tailored to your needs
  12. Installation and support on site
  13. Training to ensure you get the most from your metrology tool
  14. Measurement service for smaller runs of components or R&D
  15. If you have a pressing metrology issue and would like to know if we can help, try us out and send us a component sample to be measured, for more details see our sample measurement programme

    What we measure

    Precision metrology for a wide range of surfaces and in some cases films encountered in engineering and science. Our solutions allow surface profiles, form, flatness, waviness, texture, roughness, machining marks, material features and finish to be measured using high speed non-contact imaging technology. This delivers:


    • Non-contact measurement of complete surfaces in 3D not just point samples or a line profile but height information across a whole 2D image so you do not miss a thing
    • Powerful process software with easy to use interface allows you to extract familiar data such as 2D profiles at will and in any orientation
    • Capture data at far higher speeds than can be achieved with contact methods such as CMM or stylus profilers. Up to a million data points can be captured in seconds
    • To rapidly take the 3D data captured and allow comparison with conventional contact metrology
    • Offer far higher precision particularly in the height dimension than can be achieved with conventional metrology tools, typically down to 0.1nm
    • Allow complex image processing of data to perform sophisticated QA measurements or extract specific quantitative data from the measurement e.g wear volume
    • Automate the process to reduce or eliminate operator intervention
    • Provide rapid measurement of serial components for factory floor 100% inspection


    Typical measurements:


    • Surface form and profile
    • Departure from spherical and planar form
    • Flatness
    • Radius of curvature measurement for concave and convex surfaces
    • Volumetric wear
    • Surface features and machining marks
    • Roughness and a wide range of texture measurements for surfaces including Ra, Rpm, Rz (conforms to new ISO standards). For a full list of measurements download this document Texture
    • Waviness and a wide range of parameters user selectable through filters
    • Cone angle and recessed features
    • Step height and multiple surfaces
    • Thin and thick films


    Traceability to certified standards

    Our metrology tools provide unrivalled performance that is traceable to certified standards to ensure you achieve the highest accuracy, reproductibility and repeatability in your application. For more details download this document standards measurement.

    IndustryTypical Application
    AutomotiveTest inspection of diesel injectors & valve seats
    Data StorageMeasurement of magnetic read/write heads for hard disk drives
    Dynamic MEMSMeasure motion, displacement & key device parameters
    MedicalMeasure surface roughness and wear patterns of orthopedic implants
    OpticsFlatness measurement of ultra-precision optics
    PharmaceuticalQA of pill & capsual surfaces
    SemiconductorMeasurement of semiconductor package interconnects, solder bumps and micro vias

    Other typical applications include:

    Orthopaedic implants

  16. Measurement of radius of curvature
  17. Roughness and other texture parameters
  18. Machining and wear marks
  19. Wear volume
  20. Contact Lenses

  21. Surface form
  22. Radius of curvature
  23. Roughness
  24. Diesel Injectors

  25. Flatness
  26. Roughness
  27. Multiple surfaces and step heights
  28. Feature dimensions
  29. Cone angles
  30. Recessed features
  31. MEMS - Micro Electro Mechanical Systems

  32. Deflection & Dynamic measurement
  33. Roughness
  34. Flatness
  35. Step heights
  36. Multiple surfaces
  37. Film thickness
  38. Data storage

  39. Surface quality and defects
  40. Flatness
  41. Runout
  42. The tools we use

    The GPI, is a Fizeau type interferometer system coupled to an electronic camera and computer system for control and image processing.


    • Non-contact high speed imaging metrology tool
    • Surface form, flatness and measurement of spherical components (both convex and concave)
    • Measures deviation from form of a complete surface area typically from several sq cm to hundreds of sq cm in seconds
    • Measurement is guaranteed to better than λ/10 (63nm) across the whole viewing aperture of the instrument, the resolution of the instrument is far higher. Higher performance to better than λ/100 (6.3nm)has been demonstrated in some applications
    • Radius of curvature of both convex and concave components to several microns
    • Simple user interface for fast and easy measurement even by unskilled operators
    • Can be automated and placed in protective housing for production and shop floor environments
    • Built in environmental noise monitoring


    The NewView, a scanning white light interferometer system incorporating a microscope objective lens, led light source, electronic camera and computer system for control and image processing


    • Non-contact imaging metrology tool, captures up to a million 3D surface data points at high speed
    • Measures roughness, texture, flatness, surface height, feature dimensions and thin films with unprecedented performance over conventional metrology tools
    • Wide range of built in Roughness parameters from Ra to Rz and other texture parameters
    • Typically measures sub sq mm to several sq cm
    • Repeatable surface height measurement to 0.1nm
    • Ability to measure film thickness, typically from 1 to 75 microns
    • Wide range of accessories that also allow measurement of difficult recessed or concave components and features (using super long working distance objectives)
    • Simple user interface embedded with powerful metrology applications for rapid and easy measurement
    • Can be automated and placed in dedicated protective enclosure for application on factory and shop floor environments
    • Built in environmental noise monitoring


    How they work

    There are two components to the metrology tools we provide, the hardware, comprising the instrument with PC and frame grabber and the software that controls and processes the data from the system. The combination of hardware and software provides fast and powerful metrology tools that deliver automated measurement solutions for QA and R&D in a fast and flexible way.

    We use and supply two key instruments, the GPI and the NewView, for surface and profile measurement both driven by a common software package known as MetroPro. Both instruments are non-contact interferometric imagers that provide a 3D image of a surface to a very high degree of precision and with very high speed compared with conventional mechanical systems. Both provide a snap shot of the surface which when processed by the software allows you to extract a wide variety of parameters about a surface including making comparison with conventional measurement techniques. In the case of manufacturing this allows for automation and 100% inspection of components. For R&D the fast turnaround coupled to an easy to use interface makes productivity and metrology fast and accurate and with a precision far above mechanical methods this allows you to explore future capabilities and options.

    The GPI interferometer comprises a laser light source, optics for focussing, expanding and collimating the beam and a camera for recording interference fringes. The GPI can be used for measuring flatness using a precision Transmission Flat or spherical surfaces using a Transmission Sphere, in this particular example we shall consider the measurement of a spherical surface. The Transmission Sphere used for this measurement is a focussing lens taking the collimated (flat wavefront) laser beam and focussing it into spherical waves that converge onto the part to be measured. The transmission sphere is a precisely formed system of optics that for most applications can be considered to generate a perfect spherical light wave converging on the part under measurement.

    GPI Basic Operation

    Some of the collimated light on striking the curved surface of the transmission sphere (a glass/air interface) is reflected back into the instrument to create a reference beam of light. In this example a spherical sample has been placed in proximity to the Transmission Sphere such that the spherical wavefronts impinging on the surface strike the surface at a normal and hence the light is reflected back along its original path and into the instrument. The reflected light from the part under measurement and the reference beam are combined to create an interference pattern that is detected by the camera.

    During a measurement the Transmission Sphere is translated linearly along the optical axis with a piezo electric device to create a moving fringe pattern that is interpreted by the computer system to show the deviation of the part under test from an almost perfect sphere. The system displays these departures from spherical form using a colour coded image plot and also an oblique surface form plot, click here for examples of a spherical hip socket. The same principles can also be applied to the measurement of flat surfaces using a Transmission Flat as the reference.

    The NewView scanning white light interferometer has similar elements and operation to the GPI. It employs optics in the form of a modified microscope objective, a light source, in this case an incoherent broadband LED light source is split at the objective so that some of the light passes to a reference mirror and some is focussed onto the surface of the sample under measurement. Light from the mirror and the sample surface are reflected back into the instrument and imaged onto a camera. If the distance from the light splitter to the mirror and from the splitter to the surface are equidistant so that there is no optical path difference (OPD) then the camera will observe an interference pattern. This occurs when the objective is held so that the focal plane of the objective lies in the same plane as the surface.

    NewView Basic Operation

    In order to perform a measurement of the surface observed by the field of view of the objective, the objective lens is translated vertically and linearly so that the focal plane moves through the entire height range of the surface being measured. As it does so the interference fringes will move and follow the height profile of the surface and this information is processed by the instrument to calculate the height profile to a very high precision. If we take the simple example of a spherical surface and the objective moving downwards then the interference fringes will appear as a small set of concentric circles emanating from the top of the sphere as the focal plane of the objective intersects it.

    The concentric fringes will then grow larger as the focal plane moves and intersects the sphere lower down. The NewView is able to measure and view an image field dictated by the field of view of the objective lens, for example a 10x objective with a resolution of 1.18 microns is able to observe an area of 1.1mmx1.1mm. As with the GPI the MetroPro software processes the interference data to create a colour coded height profile of the surface under measurement, click her for an example, To measure larger areas there is a facility on the NewView to stitch image fields together. A motor driven stage allows the system to move the surface under inspection a step at a time and in raster fashion to allow relatively large planar surfaces to be measured.

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  43. StreamPix

    StreamPix is a digital video recording software that allows you to record live un-compressed or compressed video directly to your PC's RAM or hard disk drive in real time at up to 625 Mbytes/second. Create movie clips in AVI or other file formats such as bmp, tiff, multi-tiff, mpeg or jpeg format. StreamPix guarantees no image drops when acquiring a sequence.

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  44. High Speed Imaging for Sports Analysis

    High speed image capture in sports is used to analysize performance in greater detail to improve techniquique and movement. To do this effectively you need a camera system to give you good footage. The streamview LR system offers an afforable solution which is portable, fast, has superb image quality and good sensitivity.

    In order to capture footage that is useful three main aspect needs to be considered.

    • Lighting – Is there surfficent light around the object being recorded?
    • Resolution – The higher resolution you use the more storage space is required
    • Speed – What speed is necessary?

    Consumer video cameras typically have image resolutions of 640x480 (VGA) and record images 10-60 frames per second. Many sports analysis systems use a standard camcorder (30fps) or offer a maximum of 60fps. The Streamview LR system gives you 200fps. The difference can be seen clearly as illustrated:

    Golf swing taken with a standard camcorder @30fps

    Golf swing taken with the StreamView LR @ 200fps

    The StreamView LR generates files the same format as those generated by conventional video recorders. The most common audio/visual format is the Audio Visual Interleave (or AVI) format defined by Microsoft. An AVI file created by a high-speed camera should playback just as one created by a conventional video recorder. Most high speed cameras do not record audio because of the audio sampling problems arising from the variable frame-rates used during recording.

    MV APP2 1

    The StreamView LR is a portable battery-powered camera designed for quick and easy set-up in the field that captures 640x480 (VGA) images at 200fps. The minimum shutter speed is 1/100,000 or 10-microsecond – fast enough for any sporting event.

    • 4hr Battery Life
    • Use Handheld or on Tripod
    • Camera can be 300’ from PC
    • Optional LCD Viewfinder
    • Streams Video directly to Laptop RAM
    • Auto-saves for repeat recording sessions
    • Intuitive, easy-to-use record & playback
    MV APP2 2



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