Calvin Quate (July 12, 1923 – June 7, 2019) was an American engineer and physicist who held the Leland T. Edwards Professorship in the School of Engineering at Stanford. He graduated in electrical engineering at the University of Utah in 1944, and then moved to Stanford to work on his PhD, which he obtained in 1950. Between 1950 and 1960 he worked at different research laboratories, first at Bell Labs in Murray Hills, New Jersey, then at Sandia in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He finally moved to Stanford University, where since 1961 he was a professor of applied physics and electrical engineering.
Quate was interested in scanning probes for a long time. In the early 1970s, working with Ross Lemons, he developed the scanning acoustic microscope, which was reported in a paper in Applied Physics Letters in 1974; this instrument can be employed to investigate the structural properties of devices, as well as the elasticity of tissues.
In the mid-1980s he became interested in realizing an instrument that could provide images of surfaces with very high resolution, and together with Gerd Binnig and Christoph Gerber he developed the atomic force microscope.
Quate’s work has been recognized by a number of honours, including the IEEE Morris N. Liebmann Memorial Award, the IEEE Medal of Honor and the Rank Prize for Optoelectronics from the Rank Prize Funds of The Royal Society, London. He was a member of the National Academy of Sciences and of the National Academy of Engineering, as well as a fellow of the IEEE and of Palo Alto Research Center.