We have previously shown that macroscopic roughness spectra measured with light scattering at visible wavelengths were perfectly extrapolated at high spatial frequencies by microscopic roughness spectra measured with atomic force microscopy [Europhys. Lett. 22, 717 (1993); Proc. SPIE 2253, 614 (1994)]. These results have been confirmed by numerous experiments [Proc. SPIE 2253, 614 (1994)] and allow us today to characterize thin films microstructure from a macroscopic to a microscopic scale. In the first step the comparison of light scattering and atomic force microscopy is completed by optical measurements at UV wavelengths that allow us to superimpose (and no longer extrapolate) the spectra measured by the two techniques. In the second step we extract multiscale parameters that describe the action of thin-film coatings on substrate roughness in all bandwidths. The results obviously depend on materials and substrates and deposition techniques. Electron-beam evaporation, ion-assisted deposition, and ion plating are compared, and the conclusions are discussed in regard to the deposition parameters. Finally, special attention is given to the limits and performances of the two characterization techniques (light scattering and atomic force microscopy) that may be sensitive to different phenomena.
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