We present a detailed investigation of digital speckle correlation to measure small changes in the microstructure of random rough surfaces. The corresponding alterations in the scattered-light field are recorded by an electronic camera with subsequent numerical correlation. Among the classical theoretical approaches to describe the scattering at random rough surfaces, the composite-roughness model is advanced to calculate the speckle correlation in terms of parameters of the changes in surface microstructure. For an experimental verification, surfaces with similar microstructure are fabricated with a photolithographic technique. They are employed for comparative measurements with high-resolution scanning force microscopy and for correlation measurements under variation of experimental parameters. A good agreement between theoretically predicted and experimental correlation data can be observed. The results allow a quantitative whole-field monitoring of surface processes by remote optical means.
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