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Dr. Richard Gates

Research Interests

  • Nanoscale surface interactions and chemistry including nanotribology and tribochemistry
  • Scanning probe microscopy measurements and standards especially as it relates to atomic force microscopy
  • Microfabrication and the improvement of devices and artifacts for AFM calibration and method development


Figure 1(left): Microfabricated reference cantilever array for calibrating the spring constant of AFM cantilevers; Figure 2 (center): Microfabricating the array using deep reactive ion etching; Figure 3 (right) Nanoindenter calibration schematic for AFM cantilevers.

Postdoctoral Research Opportunities

Nanomechanical Standards - Nanotechnology has introduced a new series of technical challenges associated with material property measurements at the nanoscale. One such challenge involves determining the accuracy and precision of nanoscale measurements and requires suitable calibration artifacts and procedures. This project will investigate the development of nanoscale standards capable of accurately calibrating normal and lateral forces for atomic force microscopy and instrumented nanoindenter technologies. Emphasis is placed on the development of accurate transfer artifacts using novel combinations of design, modeling, lithography, nanofabrication, and calibration through SI traceable techniques. Development and optimization of instrument test device (e.g., AFM cantilevers) calibration procedures will ensure that the calibration artifacts are used to their full potential.

Awards and Honors

  • Outstanding Paper Award, Measurement Science and Technology Journal, 2006
  • Al Sonntag Best Paper Award, Society of Tribologists and Lubrication Engineers, 1991
  • American Chemical Society Analytical Chemistry Award, Hobart College, 1976
  • Nanotech Briefs Nano 50 Award, 2008

Standards Outputs

Current Chairman of Versailles Advanced Materials and Standards (VAMAS) Technical working area 29 on Nanomechanics Applied to Scanning Probe Microscopy (SPM). VAMAS Report #49 (Mini round robin on AFM cantilever spring constant calibration) is available on the web at http://www.vamas.org/twa29/documents/2009_vamas_twa29_report_49_mrr_afm_cantilever_calibration.pdf



Group Leader, Chemical Engineer
Materials Measurement Science Division
Nanomechanical Properties Group

Employment History:

2012 - present: Group Leader, Nanomechanical Properties Group
2007 - 2012: Project Leader, Scanning Probe Microscopy Measurements and Standards, Nanomechanical Properties Group
2005 - 2007: Chemical Engineer, Nanomechanical Properties Group, NIST
1994 - 2005: Chemical Engineer, Nanotribology Group, NIST
1987 - 1994: Chemical Engineer, Tribology Group, NIST
1981 - 1987: Research Chemist, Tribochemistry Group, National Bureau of Standards
1978-1981: Chemist, Recycled Oil Program, National Bureau of Standards


Ph.D., Chemical Engineering, The Pennsylvania State University (1993)
M.S., Chemical Engineering, The Pennsylvania State University (1987)
B.S., Chemistry, Hobart College (1978)


Phone: 301-975-3677
Email: richard.gates@nist.gov
Fax: 301-975-5334