Morphology and topography describe a surface qualitatively or quantitatively. Depending on the dimensions to be examined, the surface structure and the material involved, different analytical techniques should be used to measure the surface qualitatively or quantitatively.

The Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM) and to a certain extent also light microscopy can provide a good quality impression of a surface, but only lateral dimensions can be measured quantitatively. By means of profilometry or Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM) surfaces can be measured laterally and vertically with high precision. So even roughness parameters like Ra, Rq, etc. can be calculated to compare different surfaces quantitatively.

Profilometer analysis of the dimples on a steel sheet