Wilson Ho is the Donald Bren Professor of the Department of Physics and of the Department of Chemistry at the University of California, Irvine. His research has been focused on understanding molecules and their behaviors by carrying out precision measurements on solid surfaces in ultrahigh vacuum and using homemade instruments. He is recognized particularly for the experimental realization of the phenomenon of spatially resolved inelastic electron tunneling and subsequently its broad applications to the study of single molecules with the scanning tunneling microscope. Ho was born in Taiwan in 1953 and became a U.S. citizen in 1978. He received B.S. and M.S. degrees in chemistry in 1975 from the California Institute of Technology and the Ph.D. degree in physics in 1979 from the University of Pennsylvania. He became a Member of the Technical Staff at AT&T Bell Laboratories and was on the physics faculty at Cornell University prior to joining the University of California, Irvine in 2000.

Research Interests

Chemical and physical processes on solid surfaces are ubiquitous in nature and technology. By carrying out experiments in ultrahigh vacuum on single crystals to achieve well defined conditions and using surface sensitive probes, Ho and his laboratory seek to understand the fundamental properties of molecules and their transformations with sub-atomic spatial resolution. They have a long standing tradition of advancing precision measurements with homemade instruments. With their development of the scanning tunneling microscopes at low temperatures, it became possible to probe and image the interior of single molecules to reveal the spatial distributions of molecular orbitals, vibrational and spin excitations, and optical transitions. They have further developed an inelastic tunneling probe to obtain real space images of the molecular skeletal structure with chemical sensitivity. They are interested in the basic understanding of the mechanistic connection between molecular structure and function from spectral microscopy of single molecules. The approach by Ho and his laboratory is to achieve atomic-scale visualization of chemical and physical transformations at the single molecule level induced by electron and energy transfers, spin interactions, and environmental changes.

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Primary Section

Section 14: Chemistry

Secondary Section

Section 33: Applied Physical Sciences