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Richard S. Gates (Assoc)

Chemical Engineer


Figures 1,2,3
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.

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



  • US Patent # 9,535,085 "Intermittent Contact Resonance Atomic Force Microscopy and Process for Intermittent Contact Resonance Atomic Force Microscopy," Inventors: Stan & Gates (2017)
  • US Patent # 6,207,627 “Oxygen-Containing Organic Compounds as Boundary Lubricants for Silicon Nitride Ceramics,” Inventors: Gates & Hsu (2001)
  • US Patent # 6,206,764 “Methods for Machining Hard Materials Using Alcohols,” Inventors: Hsu, Ying, Gu, Wang, & Gates (2001)
  • US Patent # 4,919,829 "Aluminum Hydroxides as Solid Lubricants," Inventors: Gates & Hsu (1990)


Standards Outputs

NIST Standard Reference Material 3461 "Standard Reference Cantilevers for Atomic Force Microscopy Spring Constant Calibration" is now available for purchase through the NIST Office of Standard Reference Materials at the following link:

Images of SRM 3461 device and enlarged view of the cantilever arrays at one end
NIST SRM3461 device and enlarged image of the cantilever array at upper end

SRM 3461 consists of a tiny rectangular silicon chip smaller than a ladybug, containing seven uniform cantilevers of different lengths, at one end.  Each cantilever is about the width of a human hair and is individually calibrated and certified for stiffness (Spring Constant) at NIST using a laser Doppler vibrometer with traceability to the SI.  A press release for this artifact provides more detail on the following link:


Previous 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


Public Media Highlights


Microfabricated membrane image
Microfabricated composite membrane buckling under residual stress
Credit: Richard Gates / NIST


  • NIST Jacob Rabinow Applied Research Award (2015)
  • Nanotech Briefs Nano 50 Award (2008)
  • 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 (1978)


Selected Publications


Created August 15, 2019, Updated February 6, 2023