Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock ( ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Surface Characterization: Present Status and the Need for Standards



Cedric J. Powell


A summary is given of the present status and use of surface-characterization measurements in the United States. Attention is primarily devoted to those properties needed to characterize a solid surface, specifically the determination of surface composition, surface atomic structure, surface electronic structure, and atomic motions on surfaces; these characteristics directly affect many important surface properties or processes that occur on surfaces (e.g., electrical and optical properties, adhesion, bonding, catalytic activity, plating, durability, corrosion, decoration, segregation, lubrication, and reactivity). The above four forms of surface characterization are widely utilized in surface-science experiments while measurements of surface composition are routinely made to solve a wide variety of problems in the semiconductor, chemical, petroleum, and metals industries for applications ranging from process and device development, process control, process evaluation, to failure analysis. Surface-characterization measurements in government laboratories support a variety of agency missions. Surface science and surface technology have both grown rapidly in the past ten years, and further growth is expected. At this time, there is an almost complete lack of standard, standard procedures, and standard materials to support surface-characterization measurements. A new Committee on Surface Analysis has been recently formed by the American Society for Testing and Materials to develop standard for all methods of surface analysis in common use. Examples are given of the standards that need to be developed.
Applied Surface Science


Powell, C. (1978), Surface Characterization: Present Status and the Need for Standards, Applied Surface Science (Accessed February 24, 2024)
Created January 1, 1978, Updated February 19, 2017