About Me

I have been born in Bayreuth in Germany (yes, not in Beirut Lebanon), which is most famous for the Richard Wagner opera house and festival. I went there to school and somehow it happened that I started also studying there after the University of Bayreuth was founded in 1975, which changed Bayreuth a lot, i.e. from an administrative city to a much more open place with many students (and therefore nice bars). I started studying chemistry, even after not liking chemistry in school -my majors where German, Biology, and History. At that time I was not sure what to study after my military service -German, History or Pharmacy. After deciding on the latter, I realized that I could not get a place for it, so I decided to stay in Bayreuth and ended up studying chemistry, always with the idea that I still can change. Somehow this never happened, and I made my way through the Diploma-Exams, resulting in a Diploma-thesis, which I made not in the Chemistry Department (a new thing in this time) but in Ecological Chemistry (part of the Geosciences Department). Anyhow, this was the time when I realized that research was something I really liked, so I continued now in Physical Chemistry (where I also worked during my Diploma Thesis) with my PhD thesis with Professor A. Wokaun (with whom I am still working, so one of my best decisions). When I finished with my thesis, suddenly (started 1 year before) there were no jobs anymore available in industry for new chemists. Seeing the frustration of my friends writing hundreds of applications, I decided not to do this and to accept an offer from Dr. Yabe, whom I met at a conference, to come as PostDoc to Japan. I applied for an STA/AvH Fellowship, which I got (again, one of my good moves), because I started to love Japan fast and my interest in research increased. When my one year was alomst over, I felt that I should not yet return to Europe. So I applied to the USA for another postdoctoral fellowship to 10 places and got 6 offers. Not knowing too much about the US, I decided very "scientifically", i.e. I took the offer which offered the highest salary. In this way I ended up in the Los Alamos National Laboratory, a really strange place, but also a perfect environment for science, where I stayed finally for 4 years, before getting the possibilty to return to Europe (just in time before all the problems for foreigners started at LANL), i.e. back to my PhD advisor (A. Wokaun), who meanwhile moved to the Paul Scherrer Institut. I moved then to PSI in Switzerland (where I am still), first as senior scientis, then became group leader, and also professor at ETH Zurich. The movings from one place to other ment also that I changed my research topics several times (working now for many years mainly with Physicists), but also that I met many scientists from different fields, and that I have still close contacts to Japan and the US. Interestingly, this strong connections to Physics resulted in the honor to receive a Dr. honoris causa title from the University of Bucarest, which has been suggested by the Physics Department.
In addition to my job I have also a private life (see also activities), I like to meet friends, to read (favorites: R. P. Feynman: Surely you're joking, Mr Feynman, J. R. R. Tolkien: The lord of the rings, F. Herbert: Dune, E. Hemingway: Across the river into the trees), listen to music (e.g. Dire Straits, Phil Collins, but also Classic, Opera, and Blues), watch movies (old western, like The Searchers, something with water, i.e. Abyss, Deep Blue, or science fiction/fantasy), and having a glass of wine (dry whites, i.e. Riesling from Franken (Germany), and red wines, e.g. from Italy, Switzerland and South America). The least favorable with me are: cauliflower, combination of arrogance with ignorance/stupidity, empty shells, do-nothings, lies, and blow-hards.

Contact Details

Professor Dr. Dr. h.c. Thomas Lippert
Paul Scherrer Institut
OFLB/U110, 5232 Villigen-PSI, Switzerland

+41-56 310 4076
(cartoon from DigitalBlacksmith.com for MRS)


University of Bucarest, Romania

Doctor honoris causa March 2014

Degree of Doctor honoris causa at the University of Bucarest through the Department of Physics (Professor S. Antohe and Professor M. Dinescu).

ETH Zurich, Switzerland

Professor January 2013

Appointment as adjunct professor in the Laboratory of Inorganic Chemistry.

ETH Zurich, Switzerland

Habilitation June 2002

Habilitation at ETH Zurich in Physical Chemistry with the habilitation thesis "Photopolymers designed for laser ablation - ablation mechanisms and applications". Appointment as Privatdozent (senior lecturer) at ETH Zurich.

University of Bayreuth, Germany

PhD May 1990 to July 1993

Ph. D. in Chemistry at the Laboratory of Physical Chemistry, University of Bayreuth, Germany. Adviser: Professor A. Wokaun. Dissertation "Excimer laser induced ablation of polymers and doped polymers: characterization of the dopants", second advisor: Professor O. Nuyken, Department of Macromolecular Chemistry. See below the "procedure" how I got my doctor hat after I passed the exam, and what happened afterwards (being pushed on a cart through the whole campus).

University of Bayreuth, Germany

Diploma (MSc) April 1989 to April 1990

M.Sc. (Diploma) thesis in the Laboratory of Ecological Chemistry / Geochemistry (and Physical Chemistry) Advisor: Professor O. Hutzinger, Dr. D. Lenoir, and Professor A. Wokaun. Subject: Surface spectroscopic methods to characterize the reactivity of aryl-bromides on copper surfaces.

University of Bayreuth, Germany

Chemistry Studies October 1983 to March 1989

Chemistry studies at the University of Bayreuth.

Secondary School in Bayreuth, Germany

Graf Münster Gymnasium September 1973 to June 1982

I went to the Graf Münster Gymnasium (secondary school), formerly known as OR ("Oberrealschule" or "Ochsenranch"-as it has been for most of the time I was there a boys-only-school, which only changed when I was in the 10th or 11th grade). The OR was a mathematical-natural science school, see photo below (from http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Graf-Münster-Gymnasium), and an intersting place for my 9 years of secondary school.

Primary School in Bayreuth, Germany

Pavillon School and Jean-Paul School September 1969 to June 1973

I went to the to two differnt schools for primary school, i.e. for the first 3 years to the Pavillon School-Birken and for the last year to the Jean-Paul School (as there was not enough space to host the forth grade, due to too many kids). Both photos are taken from articles from the Nordbayerischen Kurier.


Paul Scherrer Institut

Head of Research Group (Materials, since July 2016, the name was changed to Thin Films & Interfaces) January 2002 - Present

Group leader of the Materials, now Thin Films & Interfaces Group at the Paul Scherrer Institut. Topic: Deposition and characterization of thin films.

ETH Zurich

Member of the Laboratory of Inorganic Chemistry January 2012 - Present

Member of the Laboratory of Inorganic Chemistry in the Department of Chemistry and Applied Biosciences.

WPI I2CNER, International Institute for Carbon-Neutral Energy Research, Kyushu University, Japan

WPI Principle Investigator August 2016 - Present

Principle investigaor at I2CNER, Molecular Photoconversion Devices Division, Kyushu University, Japan.

Paul Scherrer Institut

Member of Research Committee February 2013 - Present

Member of the PSI Research Committee.

Paul Scherrer Institut

Laser Subject Matter Expert June 2005 - Present

Laser subject matter expert at PSI.

Paul Scherrer Institut

Senior Scientist February 1999 - December 2001

Senior Scientist at the Paul Scherrer Institut, Materials Development and Characterization Group.

Los Alamos National Laboratory

Technical Staff Member March 1998 to February 1999

Technical Staff Member (TSM) at Los Alamos National Laboratory. Member of the HERCULES (High Explosive Reaction Chemistry via Ultrafast Laser Excited Spectroscopies) Team, working T-jump experiments with high explosives, studied with ps infrared spectroscopy.

Los Alamos National Laboratory

Director's Postdoctoral Fellow December 1995 to February 1998

Research with: Dr. P. O. Stoutland and Dr. D. J. Funk on Studies of laser materials interactions, especially of highly energetic materials with time-resolved infrared spectroscopy.

Los Alamos National Laboratory

Postdoctoral Fellow June 1995 to December 1995

Research with: Dr. P. O. Stoutland and Dr.A. Koskelo on Studies of laser materials interactions, especially of highly energetic materials with time-resolved infrared spectroscopy.

National Institute of Materials and Chemical Research (NIMC now AIST), Tsukuba, Japan.

Postdoctoral Fellow April 1994 - April 1995

Postdoctoral Fellowship from the Science and Technology Agency (STA) of Japan / Alexander v. Humboldt (AvH). Research with Dr. A. Yabe on Studies of chemical and physical changes of novel photopolymers, after laser irradiation using scanning electron microscopy, X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy, secondary ion mass spectroscopy and FT-Raman spectroscopy.

Wacker Chemistry, Burghausen

Industrial Postdoctoral Fellow October 1993 - March 1994

Research with Dr. J. Dauth at Wacker Chemistry (my laboratories were at the University of Bayreuth) on studies of the photochemical activation of Pt- catalysts for hydrosilylation reactions, as an alternative to the usual thermal activated systems.

Military service, Germany

Military July 1982 to September 1983

Military service in Neunburg v. Wald and Bayreuth. Dressed in "fashionable green" (try to find me in the photo), and in/with this "instrument" (image from: http://www.e-tumleh.de/html/545.html) I had to work.



• Functional thin oxide films deposited by laser ablation (pulsed laser deposition - PLD, see two of our 4 chambers below), especially for renewable energy applications, such as fuel cells and batteries, but also with special properties (multiferroic).
• Plasma spectroscopy (mass and emission) applied during laser ablation and thin film deposition.
• Analysis and characterization of thin films using various spectroscopies (UV-Vis-NIR, Raman (see photo, credit to PSI, below), Raman-microscopy, mass spectrometry and emission spectroscopy) including surface analysis by secondary ion mass spectrometry (SIMS).
• Application of laser ablation for fundamental studies related to structuring and laser transfer.


Editor-in-Chief of Applied Physics A:Materialss Science & Processing , January 2017 2012 to present.
Editor of Applied Surface Science, October 2012 to December 2016.
• Section Editor Materials for Energy Applications of the open access journal Materials, July 2008 to December 2014.
• Co-Editor Journal of Laser Micro/Nanoengineering, May 2005 to April 2013.
• Editor (together with A. Weidenkaff) for the special issue Novel Thermoelectric Materials and Applications in Materials, MDPI open access publishing, 2010.
• Associate Editor of Laser Chemistry, June 2006 to 2011.
• Guest editor for the special issue Lasers in Nanoscience, Analysis and Applications in Applied Physics A, Springer 2010/2011.
• Guest editor for 4 special issues (Lasers in Nanoscience, Analysis and Applications; Materials Growth by Pulsed Laser Deposition; Laser Processing; Laser Ablation: Fundamentals) in Applied Physics A, Springer 2008.
• Guest editor of the symposium proceedings (E-MRS) Photonic Processing of Surfaces, Thin Films and Devices, in Thin Solid Films, Elsevier 2004.
• Invited guest editor for Polymers and Light in Advances in Polymer Science, Springer 2004.


President of E-MRS Senate (European Materials Research Society), from 2016 to 2017.
President of E-MRS (European Materials Research Society), from 2014 to 2015.
• Member of the Peer Review Panel of the Danish Council for Strategic Research, 2012 to 2014.
• Vice President of the E-MRS, May 2011 to 2013.
• MRS Program Development Subcommittee Advisory Board, 2012 to 2104.
• MRS member, April 2010 to 2016.
• E-MRS member, January 2009 to present. • Member of the Executive Committee, E-MRS, 2008-to 2013.
• Member of the Board of Delegates of the E-MRS, 2004-to 2013.

Conference Chair

• Co-Chair of the 14th International Conference on Laser Ablation (COLA), Marseille, France, September 2017.
• Co-chair of the symposium "Pulsed-laser deposition of thin films : 30 years of fundamentals, innovative materials and applications", at the E-MRS conference, Warsaw, Poland, September 2016.
• Co-Chair of the MRS Fall Meeting (over 6000 attendees), Boston, USA, November 2012.
• Co-Chair of the E-MRS Spring Meeting (over 2500 attendees), Strasbourg, France, June 2012.
• Co-chair of the symposium "Laser Materials Processing for Micro and Nano Applications", at the E-MRS conference, Nice, France, May 2011.
• Co-Chair of the E-MRS Spring Meeting (~2400 attendees), Strasbourg, France June 2010.
• Co-Chair of the 9th International Conference on Laser Ablation (COLA), Tenerife, Spain, September 2007.
• Co-chair of the symposium "Laser Chemistry, Material Processing and Industrial Applications" at the IQEC-CLEO-PR conference, Tokyo, Japan, July 2005.
• Co-chair of the symposium "Advances in Laser and Lamp Processing of Functional Materials" at the E-MRS conference, Strasbourg, France, June 2005.
• Co-chair of the symposium "Photon Processing of Surfaces, Thin films and Devices" at the E-MRS conference, Strasbourg, France, June 2003.

Conference Committees

Thomas has served on over 50 conference committees (steering or advisory).


Thomas has acted (or was invited) as reviewer for 25 international agencies and for a large number of scientific journals ranging from Physics (Phys. Rev. Lett. to Applied Physics Journals), Chemistry (e.g. Angew. Chem., Macromolecules, etc., but generally in Polymer, Inorganic, Analytical, and Electro-Chemistry), Material Science (e.g. Adv. Mat.), and Surface Science to General Science Journals, such as Nature.


President of E-MRS (European Materials Research Society), from 2014 to 2015.
• Vice-President of E-MRS, May 2011 to 2013.
• Invitation Fellowship, Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS), Sendai, Japan, Aug.-Sept., 2008.
• Visiting Professor at Tokushima University, Japan, Feb. - March 2001.
• Visiting Scholar at the Advanced Science Research Center of the Japan Atomic Energy Research Institute (JAERI). March 1997 - April 1997.
• Director’s Postdoctoral Fellow at Los Alamos National Laboratory. December 1995 – February 1998.
• Science and Technology Agency of Japan / Alexander v. Humboldt Postdoctoral Fellow at the National Institute of Materials and Chemical Research (NIMC), Tsukuba, Japan. April 1994 - April 1995.


Thomas has been directing a number of national projects and was involved in several national/international projects, accumulating funding in the range of 3100 kCHF as PI and 3900 kCHF as Co-PI.


28 PhD students (21 finished with 3 receiving the ETH medal) + 16 as external referee 4 Diploma or semester students.
3 Lectures at ETH Zurich (Department of Chemistry and Applied Biosciences and Materials Science Department):
Inorganic Thin Films: Processing Properties and Applications.
Micro- and Nanostructures: Laser Applications in Research and Industry.
Functional Inorganics (two lectures, other lectures by M. Kovalenko and Y. Romanyuk).



Scuba Diving

PADI MSDT since 1997

One of my hobbies and this already for a long time is scuba diving. I got first certified in 1990 and try to go at least once a year for a some diving during vacation (but this has become more and more difficult). I am PADI-Instructor (MSDT 154518, but not active any more), Baracuda (CMAS) and DIWA certified, DAN O2-Instructor, and Full Cave certified (NACD and IANTD). Over the years I have been diving at many places (see list), and got even some nice photos (only a few by myself). Recently, just seeing water is not enough any more for diving, there must be something special, such as the sharks in South Africa.

From left: Great white (South Africa-SA), oceanic black top (SA), sandtiger (SA), and leopard shark (Thailand).
From left: Scalloped hammerhead (Galpagos), Blue (California), Whale shark (Galapagos), and Manta Ray (Yap).

From left: Hawksbill turtle (Maledives), gooseneck barnacles (British Columbia, photo by G. Venice), mantis shrimp (Thailand) and Pierre's Palace (cave in Yucatan, photo by J. and P. Heinerth).


Touring since 1999

I got my motorcycle license in the US, which was very easy and cheap. I attended a safety course for a weekend (something like 40$) and got afterwards the license directly from the motor vehicle division in Los Alamos, which is valid in Switzerland (different to e.g. Germany). I bought also my first motocyle (a Suzuki VX800) in the US which I brought even to Switzerland, where I got my second (Suzuki VS Strom 1000) and now my third motorcycle (the new Suzuki V-Strom 1000), see below. It is obvious that I like Suzis and twins. I try at least to go once per year on a longer tour (see tours here), but unfortunately, as with diving, my time is limited.

From left: View from the Furka pass, and stops at Umbrail amd Albula passes in not very good weather.

Gourmet Food

With increasing age I started to like gourmet food more and more (and was willing and able to spend the necessary money for it), and whenever I travel I try to go to one of the highly ranked restaurants there (Guide Michelin or Gault Millau). My own present for my birthday in the last years has always been a visit, combined with a stay over the weekend, in a 3 star restaurant.

I like also to cook, including the application of special techniques, e.g. sous-vide, spherification (molecular cooking), etc., but I have also a BBQ smoker (meaning I like meat, including fish, but I try always to buy my meat from farms where the animals have a good life). I am also very experimental with eating, and will try (almost) everything, including insects, stuff from the ocean, but also from "strange" animals.


I like to travel to see different countries, try the local food and drinks, experience their customs, and if possible to dive. I was also in the lucky situation that I worked in Japan and the USA, which gave different home bases for travel. I started travelling a lot as soon as I had my first car, which I used to travel around in Europe and even in Africa. I even crossed the Sahara once in my VW-bus. The different places I visited in both continents can be seen here. Some impressions from my different trips are shown below, while more photos can be found here.

From left: Angkor Wat, Gizeh-Cheops pyramid and sphinx, Mutianyu-Chinese Wall, Chichen Itza-pyramid of Kukalcan.

From left: South Africa/Londolozi private game reserve: leopard, cheetah, lion, and Komodo dragon (Indonesia).

From left: Australia, Sydney Opera house, the Uluru (Ayer's Rock), a cassowarry, and echidna.
From left: Australia, male kangaroo, platypus, koala, and quoll.


Single Malt Whiskies: I am a life-time member of the whisky connoisseurs and I am a Friends of Laphroaig (FOL, meaning I have a life-time lease for 1 square foot of land, etc.), and believe that every day comes to a perfect end with a single malt. My favorites are the islay single malts, e.g. Laphroaig, Lagavulin, but I normally have a wide selctions of single malts (10-30) at home. The photos below are from a trip to islay in 2013 (on the right, the newest farm destillery-Kilchoman).

Japan: I am a big Japan fan, as I lived for one year as a post-doc there and had the opportunity for several visits. I love japanese food (below left), sake, onsen (below middle and on the right in front of an onsen hotel) and sumo (I took even once part in a tournament).

Horseback riding and fishing: During the time I spent in the wild west (New Mexico) I learnt riding (western style) which I could continue for some time even here in Switzerland (photo on the left: TL on Leela). From time to time I have still the chance to go out on the back of a horse (photo in the center: Canyon de Chelly). The other "outdoor" thing I picked up is fishing. I went to fly fishing classes, which I can not do any more, but other types of fishing, such as the king salmon fishing in Alaska (photo on the right), are still sometimes possible,

Since my time in New Mexico (I am "addicted" to green chillies), or even before, when I crossed the Sahara and travelled trough West-Africa, I eat very very spicy (a Dr.-friend told me before my trip to Africa, that I should always eat spicy, then I would not get stomach problems-I did it, and it worked, and I ate a lot from street kitchens in Africa, etc., including drinking tea made with water from the Nile). Most people will not be able to eat spicy food which I made for myself, as I use a lot of chillies, which I grow in my garden, and which I eat often directly as snack.

Tennis: I WAS member of the TC Wettingen because of their great club coach, i.e. Danny Freundlieb, but this changed (not the quality of Danny as coach). Then I was member of the TC Schlieren, but had to give this up due to problems with my foot.

Get In Touch.

To contact me send an email to
and I will reply as soon as possible.