Calvin Quate

Calvin Quate
Born (1923-12-07) December 7, 1923
Baker, Nevada
Residence United States
Nationality American
Fields Electrical engineering
Institutions PARC
Sandia National Labs
Alma mater University of Utah (B.S.) (1944)
Stanford University (Ph.D) (1950)
Notable awards IEEE Medal of Honor (1988)
National Medal of Science (1992)
Kavlie Prize for AFM (2016)

Calvin F. Quate was born on 7 December 1923 in Baker, Nevada. He is one of the inventors of the atomic force microscope. He is a professor emeritus of Applied Physics and Electrical Engineering at Stanford University.

He earned his bachelor's degree in electrical engineering from the University of Utah College of Engineering in 1944, and his Ph.D. from Stanford University in 1950.

Quate is known as the brilliant mind behind acoustic and atomic force microscopy. The scanning acoustic microscope, invented with a colleague in 1973, has resolution exceeding optical microscopes, revealing structure in opaque or even transparent materials not visible to optics.

In 1981, Quate read about a new type of microscope able to examine electrically conductive materials. Together with Gerd Binnig and Christoph Gerber, he developed a related instrument that would work on non-conductive materials, including biological tissue, and the Atomic Force Microscope was born.[1] AFM traces surface contours using a needle to maintain constant pressure against the surface to reveal atomic detail.[2] AFM is the foundation of the $100 million nanotechnology industry. Binnig, Quate and Gerber were rewarded with the Kavli-Prize in 2016 for developing the Atomic Force Microscope.

Quate is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and National Academy of Sciences. He was awarded the 1980 IEEE Morris N. Liebmann Memorial Award and the IEEE Medal of Honor in 1988 for "the invention and development of the scanning acoustic microscope."[3] Quate became a Senior Research Fellow at the Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) in 1984.[3]


  1. Binnig, G.K.; Quate, C.F.; Gerber, C. (1986). "Atomic Force Microscope". Phys. Rev. Lett. 56 (9): 930–933. doi:10.1103/physrevlett.56.930.
  2. Giessibl, Franz J.; Quate, Calvin F. (2006). "Exploring the nanoworld with atomic force microscopy". Physics Today. 59: 44–50. doi:10.1063/1.2435681.
  3. 1 2 "Calvin F. Quate, 1923 -". IEEE. 1988. Retrieved 2009-03-26.

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