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Contact Information

Model: Alpha-step 200Faculty Contact: Aaron Hawkins
Manufacturer: Tencor InstrumentsStaff Contact: Jim Fraser
Maintenance RequestStudent Contact: Joel Wright
General Information
Equipment Specifications
Operating Procedure


The profilometer measures the vertical depth of a material across a specified horizontal length. The profile is displayed on a printable graphical interface. Uses for this equipment include measuring etch depth, deposited film thickness, and surface roughness.

  • Vertical ranges of: 1000, 2500, 5000, 10k, 25k, 50k, 100k, 250k, 500k and 1000k
  • Leveling (Auto, Manual)
  • Scan Length: 3mm (Manual mode), 2.5mm (Automatic)
  • Resolution: 50


  1. Click here to see the operation manual.
  2. Start-up Procedures

    1. Turn the power on (if the equipment is cold, it may need to warm up for a few minutes)
    2. To load the sample, lower the stage and move it out from under the stylus. Do this by pressing the "TABLE" down arrow and then turning stage knob.
    3. Place the sample on the stage.
    4. Move the loaded stage under the stylus.
    5. To view the sample through the graphical interface, press the "TABLE" up arrow. Continue raising the stage until the sample is in focus.
    6. Orient the stage using the stage knobs until the target feature is under the stylus. (The stylus can be seen as a black pointed object on the top of the screen.)
    7. Press the "TABLE" up arrow button until the stylus makes contact with the sample and then backs off.
    8. Press the "START/STOP" button.
  3. Changing the Horizontal Scan Range

    1. Press "ENT".
    2. Select from the range choices displayed on the screen by pressing the "RANGE" up and down arrows.
    3. Press "ENT" again to exit.
  4. Changing the Displayed Vertical Depth

    1. 1. Press the "RANGE" up and down arrows and select from the choices of displayed depths.
    2. 2. Press "PLOT" to make the changes.
  5. Zooming

    1. To zoom into a specific section of the plotted profile, move the left and right cursors around the desired section. Do this by pressing the "CURSOR" left and right arrows.
    2. Press "PLOT".
    3. To zoom back out, press the "PLOT" button again.
  6. Manually Level the Profile

    1. Press "LEVEL".
    2. Move the left and right cursors around a portion of the slanted line you know to be level. Do this by pressing the "CURSOR" left and right arrows.
    3. Press "PLOT"
  7. Printing the Profile

    1. When the profilometer is first turned on you must press "ENT" to establish a link. If you did not, then turn it off and back on to do it. It will normally say "HOST LINK NOT ACTIVE" after doing this.
    2. When scanning, do not stop the scan early or the computer cannot correctly display the profile.
    3. On the Desktop of the computer there is a file that is named profilometerGUI.m, this is the script that handles capture, editing, and analysis of the data from the profilometer. Opening and running the file will bring up a GUI interface.
    4. Once in the main screen of the GUI, press the Scan button. The indicator below will turn yellow and say waiting.
    5. Press the "PRINT" button on the Profilometer. The indicator on the computer will turn green and say active, and the graph will update with the new profile once the transfer is completed. When the transfer is completed the indicator will return to the grey color and say idle.
    6. Ctl-s will save the data as a txt file, do not type the extension in the file name box.
    7. Right and Left clicks within the graph window will set respectively right and left bars, these may be used to measure, level, concatenate, etc.
    8. Use the Concatenate button to store a list of measured data. Right and Left click to set the bounds, and press Ctl-a or the Concatenate button. A new window will open, and a list of the data stored will be shown. Profile files may be changed from the main screen, but the window that the concatenate button opened must be kept open to remember the data. When all the data wanted has been stored, return to the concatenate window and press save. The file is stored as a txt file, and may be opened in the main screen for analysis.
    9. When a file that was saved from the concatenate screen is opened in the main window, a prompt will appear asking what data you would like to plot. Only one option may be selected at a time. The data in the file will be plotted on the screen, titles may be entered, analysis data may be selected for print, and an image will be generated.
    10. A more complete help manual is available here.
    11. The MATLAB code (courtesy of Mark Hamblin) is also available for download here.
  8. Shut-down Procedures

    1. Lower the stage and move it out from under the stylus by pressing the "TABLE" down arrow and then turning the stage knobs.
    2. Remove the sample.
    3. Turn the power off.
    4. Log out.