Main content start
Calvin Quate — inventor of scanning acoustic and atomic force microscopes
Quate received his PhD from Stanford in 1950 and joined the faculty in 1961. Today he is a Stanford professor emeritus of electrical engineering and applied physics.
In 1985, Quate read about a new type of microscope that could examine electrically conductive materials. When dreamed up a related instrument that would work on non-conductive materials — including biological tissue — the atomic force microscope (AFM) was born. AFM traces surface contours using a needle to maintain constant pressure against the surface to reveal atomic detail. AFM is the foundation of the $100 million nanotechnology industry.