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Richard A. Allen

Mr. Allen is a physicist in the Nanoscale Metrology Group in the Engineering Physics Division of the Physical Measurement Laboratory (PML) at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). His current research focuses on metrology for MicroElectroMechanical Systems (MEMS) devices; the topics he is currently working are:

  • Methods for evaluating the quality of bonded wafers
  • Metrology for MEMS-scale robots (MicroRobotics)

Mr. Allen led an effort – completed in 2009 – to update SEMI Standard MS5: Test Method for Wafer Bond Strength Measurements Using Micro-Chevron Test Structures. The key update to MS5 was the inclusion of a Precision and Bias statement derived from the results of a Round Robin experiment led by Mr. Allen. Mr. Allen's continuing research in wafer bond strength is expected to lead to a NIST SRM to support users of MS5; in addition, he is participating on the leadership team of a new project by the SEMI Wafer Bond Task Force to evaluate method for identifying voids in the interfaces between bonded wafers.

The research effort in microrobotics focuses on characterization of the motion of untethered MEMS devices including step size and the effect of surface interactions, including non-Amontons friction. In addition to the internal research, NIST has organized a series of competitions to allow microrobotics researchers to interact and demonstrate their research to the wider community.

Prior to his work in MEMS metrology, Mr. Allen developed electrical-based methods and standards for dimensional metrology.

Prior to joining NIST in 1990, Mr. Allen was a member of the technical staff at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. At JPL, Mr. Allen's research focused on methods of measuring the effects of space radiation on semiconductor devices. A highlight of his work at JPL was the design of a test chip, of which 12 were included in the SPACERAD Microelectronics Package of the NASA/U.S. Air Force Combined Release and Radiation Effects Satellite (CRRES), which was launched in July 1990. The radiation effect test structures on these chips took advantage of the highly elliptical geosynchronous transfer orbit of the CRRES satellite to allow for characterization of radiation effects – both total dose and high-energy single events – throughout the range of orbits commonly experienced by satellites.

Mr. Allen has over 100 publications including journal articles, conference proceedings, and book chapters as well as 11 U.S. patents. He has given numerous invited and contributed talks and tutorials on semiconductor and MEMS metrology. Mr. Allen has served at the International Conference on Microelectronic Test Structures as Technical Chair (2009), Tutorial Chair (2006), and as a member of the Technical Committee. 

In addition to his research position at NIST, Mr. Allen serves the community surrounding NIST as a member of the Supervisory Committee of the COMSTAR Federal Credit Union and as a member of the governing board of the Neelsville Presbyterian Church.

Mr. Allen is a member of the American Physical Society and a Senior Member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.


Engineering Physics Division
Nanoscale Metrology Group


  • B.S. Physics (1982) – Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
  • M.S. Physics (1984) – Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
  • M.B.A. (2007) – Columbia Union College (now Washington Adventist University)

Phone: 301-975-5026
Email: richard.allen@nist.gov