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.
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)
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).
Professor• January 2013
Appointment as adjunct professor in the Laboratory of Inorganic Chemistry.
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.
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).
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.
Chemistry Studies• October 1983 to March 1989
Chemistry studies at the University of Bayreuth.
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.
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.
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.
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 Principle Investigator • August 2016 - Present
Principle investigaor at I2CNER, Molecular Photoconversion Devices Division, Kyushu University, Japan.
Member of Research Committee• February 2013 - Present
Member of the PSI Research Committee.
Laser Subject Matter Expert• June 2005 - Present
Laser subject matter expert at PSI.
Senior Scientist• February 1999 - December 2001
Senior Scientist at the Paul Scherrer Institut, Materials Development and Characterization Group.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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• 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.
• 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.
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).
Thomas Lippert has authored or co-authored over 300 papers, including several book chapters and review articles. A complete list of his publication can be found here, while the publication of his group at the Paul Scherrer Institut are listed here. Thomas Lippert has also delivered over 140 invited talks at conferences, institutes, and universities, including talks for the broader public, while the work of his group has been presented over 200 times as poster or contributed talks.
PADI MSDT• since 1997 Touring• since 1999 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. 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. To contact me send an email to
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).
From left: View from the Furka pass, and stops at Umbrail amd Albula passes in not very good weather.
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.
Get In Touch.
and I will reply as soon as possible.
PADI MSDT• since 1997
Touring• since 1999
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.
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.
To contact me send an email to