K.W. Hipps

  1. Regents Professor
Email Addresshipps@wsu.edu
LocationFulmer N116B


Regents Professor of Chemistry and Materials Science and Engineering

  • Fellow of the American Vacuum Society
  • Fellow of the American Chemical Society
  • Fellow of the American Physical Society
  • Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science
  • Alfred P Sloan Fellow
  • Member of the Washington Academy of Sciences


Post-Doctoral Study, 1978-1979
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI

Ph.D. Chemical Physics, 1978
Washington State University, Pullman, WA

NATO Advanced Studies Institute, Oxford University, UK 1974


Professor Hipps completed his Ph.D. in Chemical Physics at WSU in 1978. He joined the faculty at WSU in 1979 following his tenure as a National Science Foundation energy-related postdoctoral fellow at The University of Michigan. He has received several honors such as being chosen a Fellow of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, receiving the Washington State Teachers Association, “Teacher of the Year,” Award, the WSU Distinguished Faculty Award, the Graduate and Professional Students Outstanding Advisor Award, the Phi Lambda Upsilon local chapter Distinguished Faculty Award, Sahlin Eminent Faculty Award, College of Arts and Sciences Excellence in Graduate Teaching, WSU Outstanding Department Chair Award, Westinghouse Distinguished Professor of Materials Science, and Sahlin Faculty Excellence Award for Research, Scholarship, and Arts. His STM images have graced the covers of nine editions of prestigious journals including the Journal of Physical Chemistry, Langmuir, and the Journal of the American Chemical Society. He is also currently a Fellow of the American Chemical Society, a Fellow of the American Physical Society, and a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and a Fellow of the American Vacuum Society. He is also a member of the Washington State Academy of Sciences.

Much of the exciting physics and chemistry of modern technology occurs not in the body of materials, but rather at the interface between materials. For example, the catalytic converter in every modern automobile reduces harmful emissions by promoting reactions at the solid-gas interface. Modern electronic devices function only because of the variation in potential and composition that occurs over a few nanometers at the boundary between different solids. Thus, the study of surfaces and interfaces is of critical importance to physical science, medical science and to technological development.Also of great current interest (for both science and technology) are processes and materials on the nanometer scale. This area of research is often called nanotechnology. Nanotechnology spans chemical preparation, structure determination, electronic, optical, and mechanical property measurements.

In our laboratories we study the basic chemical and physical processes and structures which occur on surfaces, in interfaces, and that relate to nanoparticles. Scanning Tunneling Microscopy, Scanning Force Microscopy, Transmission Electron Microscopy, Tunneling Spectroscopy, X-ray Photoelectron, UV Photoelectron, Raman, Infrared, and EPR spectroscopy are all used to probe the world on a scale of nanometers.  Work in our laboratory spans the disciplines of chemistry, physics,materials science, and nanotechnology.

A graduate student might undertake one of several projects. The extension of scanning tunneling microscopy-spectroscopy to variable temperatures and pressures to study chemical processes at the single molecule level has high priority. In this project, we are probing molecular structure, kinetics, and thermodynamics based on measurements made at the single molecule level. We are also deeply involved in measuring electron transfer processes at the sub-molecular scale. How do different parts of molecules transmit electrons? Thin film structure and reaction chemistry problems as they relate to sensors are of intense current interest in our group. Organic nanostructures formed my ionic self-assembly are being studied at the nanometer scale to unravel the connections between structure and mechanical and electronic properties. For the theoretically-inclined student, we have a number of both fundamental and computational problems that require solutions.

Typical skills learned by my students include X-ray and electron spectoscopy, vibrational spectroscopy; electron tunneling spectroscopy;  optical, electron, and scanning probe microscopy; materials characterization techniques; computer programming and interfacing; thin film processing; high and ultra-high vacuum technology; and cryogenic techniques. Many students design and build, or have built, instruments required to advance their research. These individuals also acquire a good working knowledge of electronics, machining, and CAD.


  • Wilczek, Luke; Geiser, Joseph; Fang, Chen; Hicks, Emily; Dube, Lacie; Hipps, K. W.; Zimmt, Matthew.  Polymerization of Physisorbed Molecular Monolayers via Overhanging Alkynyl Chains: Characterization of Polymerization Kinetics and Monolayer Durability, Langmuir, 2023, 39, 46, 16457-16471
  • Single-Molecule Kinetic Analysis of Oxygenation of Co(II) Porphyrin at Solution/Solid Interface. Johnson, K. N.; Mazur, U.; Hipps, K.W. J. Phys. Chem. Lett. 2022, 13, 4918-4923.]
  • STM Reveals Surface Diffusion of Single Double-Decker Phthalocyanine Molecules at the Solution/Solid Interface.  Shammi Rana, Kristen N. Johnson, Ursula Mazur, and K.W. Hipps.  J. Phys. Chem. C 2022, 126, 8, 4140–4149.
  • STM Investigation of Y[C6S-Pc]2 and Y[C4O-Pc]2 Complex at the Solution/Solid Interface: Substrate Effects, Sub-molecular Resolution, and Vacancies.  Shammi Rana, Jianzhuang Jiang, Katalin V. Korpany, Ursula Mazur, and K. W. Hipps.  J. Phys. Chem. C 2021, 125, 1421–1431.
  • Cooperative binding of 1-phenylimidazole to cobalt(II) octaethylporphyrin on graphite: A quantitative imaging and computational study at molecular resolution.  Katalin V. Korpany, Bhaskar Chilukuri, K. W. Hipps, and Ursula Mazur.  J. Phys. Chem. C2020, 98, 34, 18639-18649
  • Kinetic and Thermodynamic Control in Porphyrin and Phthalocyanine Self-Assembled Monolayers.  K. W. Hipps and Ursula Mazur.  Langmuir 201834, 3–17. Solution/HOPG Interface. Bhattarai, A.; Marchbanks-Owens, K.; Mazur, U.; Hipps, K. W.  J. Phys. Chem. C 2016, 120, 18140-18150.
  • Kinetic and Thermodynamic Processes of Organic Species at the Solution Solid Interface: The view through an STM. Ursula Mazur and K W Hipps. Chem Comm 201551, 4737-4749.  Feature Article