Dr Michael F. A. Hippler

Michael Hippler

Senior Lecturer in Physical Chemistry
Department of Chemistry
The University of Sheffield
Brook Hill
Sheffield S3 7HF
United Kingdom

Telephone: +44 (0) 114 222 9505
Email: m.hippler@sheffield.ac.uk

Hippler Group Website


Biographical Sketch

Dr. Hippler obtained his Dipl. Phys. (diploma degree in Physics) from the Technical University of Karlsruhe, Germany in 1989. Subsequently, after his PhD in Chemistry from Heriot-Watt University in 1993, he became Postdoctoral research assistant and head teaching assistant at the Laboratorium für Physikalische Chemie of the ETH Zürich in Switzerland. In 2001 he did his "Habilitation" and "venia legendi" in Physical Chemistry at the ETH Zürich, after which he became a Lecturer in Physical Chemistry (Privatdozent) at the same institution. In 2005 he was appointed as a Senior Lecturer at the University of Sheffield.


  • Ruzicka Prize in Chemistry (2002) for "contributions to high-resolution spectroscopy, in particular experimental development of mass - and isotope-selective spectroscopy and theoretical description of high-resolution two-photon spectroscopy".
  • Nernst-Haber-Bodenstein Prize of the Deutsche Bunsengesellschaft für Physikalische Chemie (2004).

Research Keywords

Laser spectroscopy, gas phase analysis, ab initio theory, intermolecular association, hydrogen-bonding.

Teaching Interests

Physical Chemistry, Kinetics, Theory


The aim of my research is the development of new methods and applications of ultra-sensitive, high-resolution laser spectroscopy to study the structure and dynamics of molecules and clusters. The understanding of intramolecular primary processes in polyatomic molecules at the fully quantum dynamical level remains among the most challenging research questions in physics and chemistry, with applications also in biology and environmental sciences. High-resolution spectroscopy is among the most powerful tools in advancing such research and it is crucial in this context to develop new and ever more powerful spectroscopic experiments.

In my work in Zürich, I successfully developed new experimental techniques for the infrared laser spectroscopy of gas-phase molecules. These techniques have been applied to the study of intramolecular vibrational energy redistribution, vibrational mode-specific tunnelling of hydrogen-bonded clusters and stereomutation dynamics. In one class of experiments, pulsed IR laser systems are used to excite vibrational transitions and a second, subsequent UV laser pulse to ionise the excited molecules. Ionisation detection of IR excitation has been coupled with a mass spectrometer thus adding a second dimension to optical spectroscopy. In another class of experiments, the extreme sensitivity of cavity-ring-down (CRD) spectroscopy (effective absorption path lengths of several km) is combined with the very high resolution of continuous wave (cw) diode lasers (100 kHz). This technique has been applied to measure accurately the transition strengths and weak overtone transitions of molecules (nitrous oxide, methane) and of hydrogen-bonded clusters (HF dimer).

So far in Sheffield, I have studied molecular association by FTIR, Raman spectroscopy and high-level quantum-chemical calculations. For this purpose, I set up a very sensitive stimulated Raman experiment with photoacoustic detection ('PARS'). Among the intermolecular forces, the hydrogen-bond X-H...Y is particularly relevant. A hydrogen bond usually exhibits a characteristic 'red'-shift (shift to lower wavenumbers) of the X-H stretching vibration, but more unconventional 'blue'-shifting hydrogen bonds also occur and have become a hot topic of current research. In Sheffield, I have recently studied some unusual, "blue-shifting" hydrogen bonds (e.g., CHCl3...SO2 in the gas phase and open HCOOH structures in liquid formic acid) by theory and experiment.


Undergraduate and postgraduate taught modules

  • Chemical Reaction Kinetics (Level 1)
    This course develops an understanding of the factors governing chemical reactions and their rates and how this information can be used to predict reaction mechanisms.
  • Theory of Spectroscopy (Level 2)
    This lecture course shows how it is possible to gain a detailed, accurate understanding of the energy levels of molecules by spectroscopy, and how this understanding can be used to extract information concerning fundamental problems (quantum theory), the population of quantum energy levels, the total concentration (analytical applications), the structure and the internal motions of molecules.
  • Further Spectroscopy (Level 3)
    This course expands on the information at Level 2 to explain how UV-vis spectroscopy is connected to subjects as diverse as the process of vision, how lasers work, the origin of the orange/red colour of street lamps, and the composition of the universe.
  • Advanced Spectroscopy and Theory (Level 4)
    This course gives an introduction to the theory of interaction between light and matter. It introduces some of the most sensitive and selective spectroscopic techniques, and works through selected examples where these techniques are used to extract structural and dynamic information, and to test theory.

Support Teaching:

  • Tutorials: Level 2 Physical Chemistry.
  • Level 3 Literature Review

Laboratory Teaching:

  • Level 3 Physical Chemistry Laboratories
  • Level 4 Research Project


Journal articles

Conference proceedings papers

Website content

  • Hippler M Cavity enhanced Raman spectroscopy of natural gas with optical feedback cw-diode lasers. RIS download Bibtex download
  • Hippler M Home Page. RIS download Bibtex download