An apparatus and method for modifying the surface of an object by contacting said surface with a liquid processing solution using the liquid applicator geometry and Marangoni effect (surface tension gradient-driven flow) to define and confine the dimensions of the wetted zone on said object surface. In particular, the method and apparatus involve contouring or figuring the surface of an object using an etchant solution as the wetting fluid and using realtime metrology (e.g. interferometry) to control the placement and dwell time of this wetted zone locally on the surface of said object, thereby removing material from the surface of the object in a controlled manner. One demonstrated manifestation is in the deterministic optical figuring of thin glasses by wet chemical etching using a buffered hydrofluoric acid solution and Marangoni effect.
The United States Government has rights in this invention pursuant to Contract No. W-7405-ENG-48 between the United States Department of Energy and the University of California for the operation of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.