Franz J. Himpsel received a Diplom in Physics at the University of Munich with a thesis in quantum electrodynamics under F. Bopp. After a summer at CERN he went to Munich for a PhD in condensed matter physics 1976/77 with W. Steinmann. As postdoc he joined D.E. Eastman at IBM Yorktown Heights in 1977 to work on surface science with synchrotron radiation. He became staff member in 1980, manager in 1982, and senior manager in 1985, heading the Surface Physics Department. In 1995 he moved to the Physics Department of the UW Madison as full professor, where he also served as the Scientific Director of the Synchrotron Radiation Center (SRC) from 1997 to 2002.
His scientific interests have been in the area of surfaces and nanostructures. Utilizing his experience with synchrotron radiation he devised methods for mapping energy bands of solids and surfaces by angle-resolved photoemission. As complement he developed inverse photoemission with tunable photon energy for the study of unoccupied states. For identifying the bonding configurations at semiconductor surfaces/interfaces he took advantage of surface-sensitive core level spectroscopy with synchrotron radiation. Self-assembled nanostructures at surfaces have been a common thread throughout his career, such as magnetic quantum wells, atomic chains for the study of low-dimensional electrons, and an atomic scale memory for testing the limits of data storage. Most recently, he has ventured into the attachment of bio-molecules to surfaces and the design of new materials for solar cells. He has 470 publications in refereed journals and is among the 100 most-cited physicists.
Fellowship by the German Studienstiftung as undergraduate and PhD student
Peter Mark Award of the American Vacuum Society 1985
Fellow of the American Physical Society since 1985
Fellow of the American Vacuum Society since 1994
Member of the New York Academy of Sciences since 1995
Ednor M. Rowe Professor of Physics since 2000
Semiconductor Surfaces, Interfaces and Nanostructures Prize 2005, (ICFSI 2005)
Humboldt Research Award 2005
Davisson-Germer Prize of the American Physical Society 2007