School of Natural and Environmental Sciences

Staff Profile

Professor Werner Hofer

Professor of Chemical Physics


Google Scholar Profile

Professor Werner Hofer is Professor of Chemical Physics, with expertise in theoretical condensed matter physics, physical chemistry, and electron theory, including fundamental aspects of quantum mechanics. 

He holds a master degree in Engineering Physics from the University of Technology, Vienna, and a PhD in Condensed Matter Theory from the same University. Prof. Hofer is internationally known for his work on the nanoscience of surfaces and interfaces, and has worked for nearly twenty years in this field with international collaborators in Canada, the US, China, and Europe. He is also known for his work on fundamental physics, in particular electron theory and foundational aspects of quantum mechanics, which he considers an outdated and contradictory theoretical framework. 

From 1999 to 2002 he was research assistant and research associate at University College London, from 2002 to 2014 he was Lecturer, Reader (2005) and Professor (2006) in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Liverpool. He was awarded a competitive Royal Society University Research Fellowship in 2003, which he held until 2011. From 2007 to 2013 he was an international member of the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research, participating in research on nanoelectronics. Since 2014 he is Professor of Chemical Physics at Newcastle University. His editorial roles include member of the editorial board of Journal of Physics (2005-2008), Editor of the Elsevier journal Surfaces and Interfaces (2016-2017), and Associate Editor-in-Chief of Frontiers of Physics (Chinese Academy of Sciences and Springer, since 2016). He publishes regularly in high-impact journals like Nature, Nature Chemistry & Nanotechnology, Angewandte Chemie, Reviews of Modern Physics, Physical Review Letters, Nano Letters, and the Journal of the American Chemical Society.

In 2010 he became Founding Director of the Stephenson Institute for Renewable Energy at Liverpool University, which he led until 2014, building up the institute to its current strength of 60 researchers and a portfolio of £30m in research funding. Part of this role included planning and supervising the build of new laboratories and offices containing 2000 square meters. The institute’s contribution to REF 2014 of eight researchers was a major factor in the success of Chemistry in Liverpool (top unit in the country with respect to 3* and 4* outputs, 11th in the country if all science and engineering units are considered). In 2014 he became Dean of Research and Innovation in the Faculty of Science, Agriculture, and Engineering, contributing substantially to the eventual restructuring of the Faculty into four, instead of ten schools in 2017. He resigned as a Dean with effect from June 2018 to focus on his research, in particular the development of new methods to efficiently simulate systems composed of millions of atoms.

Area of Expertise

Condensed Matter Theory, Physical Chemistry, Electron Theory, Quantum Mechanics


  • Pope T, Hofer WA. A two-density approach to the general many-body problem and a proof of principle for small atoms and molecules. Frontiers of Physics 2019, 14(2), 23604.
  • Mistry L, El-Zubir O, Dura G, Clegg W, Waddell PG, Pope T, Hofer WA, Wright NG, Horrocks BR, Houlton A. Addressing the properties of "Metallo-DNA" with a Ag(I)-mediated supramolecular duplex. Chemical Science 2019, (11), 3186-3195.
  • Pope T, Du S, Gao H-J, Hofer W. Electronic effects and fundamental physics in molecular interfaces. Chemical Communications 2018, 54(44), 5508-5517.
  • Li Qing, Lin Haiping, Lv Ruitao, Terrones Mauricio, Chi Lifeng, Hofer WA, Pan Minghu. Locally Induced Spin States on Graphene by Chemical Attachment of Boron Atoms. Nano Letters 2018, 18(9), 5482-5487.
  • Chen H, Pope T, Wu Z, Wang D, Tao L, Bao D, Xiao W, Zhang J, Zhang Y, Du S, Gao S, Pantelides ST, Hofer WA, Gao H-J. Evidence for Ultralow-Energy Vibrations in Large Organic Molecules. Nano Letters 2017, 17(18), 4929-4933.
  • Pope T, Hofer WA. Spin in the extended electron model. Frontiers of Physics 2017, 12(3), 128503.
  • Xiao W, Ernst KH, Palotas K, Zhang Y, Bruyer E, Peng L, Greber T, Hofer WA, Scott LT, Fasel R. Microscopic origin of chiral shape induction in achiral crystals. Nature Chemistry 2016, 8, 326-330.
  • Schwarz F, Wang YF, Hofer WA, Berndt R, Runge E, Kröger J. Electronic and Vibrational States of Single Tin-Phthalocyanine Molecules in Double Layers on Ag(111). The Journal of Physical Chemistry C 2015, 119(27), 15716-15722.
  • Ayissi S, Charpentier P, Palotás K, Farhangi N, Schwarz F, Hofer W. Preferential Adsorption of TiO2 Nanostructures on Functionalized Single-Walled Carbon Nanotubes: A DFT Study. The Journal of Physical Chemistry C 2015, 119(27), 15085-15093.
  • Liu L, Yang K, Jiang Y, Song B, Xiao W, Song S, Du S, Ouyang M, Hofer WA, Castro-Neto AH, Gao HJ. Revealing Atomic Site-dependent g-factor within a single Magnetic Molecule via Extended Kondo Effect. Physical Review Letters 2015, 114(12), 126601.
  • Hofer WA. Solving the dark matter problem through dynamic interactions. Frontiers of Physics 2015, 10(6), 109502.
  • Sachse T, Neel N, Meierott S, Berndt R, Hofer WA, Kroger J. Electronic and magnetic states of Mn2 and Mn2H on Ag(111). New Journal of Physics 2014, 16, 063012.
  • Hofer WA. Elements of physics for the 21st century. Journal of Physics: Conference Series 2014, 504, 1-16.
  • Zhang LZ, Du SX, SUN JT, Huang L, Meng L, Xu WY, Pan LD, Pan Y, Wang YL, Hofer WA, Gao HJ. Growth Mechanism of Metal Clusters on a Graphene/Ru(0001) Template. Advanced Materials Interfaces 2014, 1(3), 1.
  • Palotas K, Mandi G, Hofer WA. Three-dimensional Wentzel-Kramers-Brillouin approach for the simulation of scanning tunneling microscopy and spectroscopy. Frontiers of Physics 2014, 9(6), 711-747.
  • Czekala PT, Panosetti C, Lin HP, Hofer WA. van der Waals corrected DFT study of high coverage benzene adsorptions on Si(100) surface and STM simulations. Surface Science 2014, 621, 152-161.
  • Meng L, Wang YL, Zhang LZ, Du SX, Wu RT, Li LF, Zhang Y, Li G, Zhou HT, Hofer WA, Gao HJ. Buckled Silicene Formation on Ir(111). Nano Letters 2013, 13(2), 685-690.
  • Ayissi S, Charpentier PA, Farhangi N, Wood JA, Palotas K, Hofer WA. Interaction of Titanium Oxide Nanostructures with Graphene and Functionalized Graphene Nanoribbons: A DFT Study. Journal of Physical Chemistry C 2013, 117, 25424-25432.
  • Liu LW, Yang K, Jiang YH, Song BQ, Xiao WD, Li LF, Zhou HT, Wang YL, Du SX, Ouyang M, Hofer WA, Castro-Neto AH, Gao HJ. Reversible Single Spin Control of Individual Magnetic Molecule by Hydrogen Atom Adsorption. Scientific Reports 2013, 3, 1210.
  • HOFER WA. Heisenberg, uncertainty, and the scanning tunneling microscope. Frontiers of Physics 2012, 7, 218-222.
  • Woolcot T, Teobaldi G, Pang CL, Beglitis NS, Fisher AJ, Hofer WA, Thornton G. Scanning Tunneling Microscopy Contrast Mechanisms for TiO2. Physical Review Letters 2012, 109, 156105.
  • Palotas K, Hofer WA, Szunyogh L. Simulation of spin-polarized scanning tunneling spectroscopy on complex magnetic surfaces: Case of a Cr monolayer on Ag(111). Physical Review B 2012, 85, 205427.
  • HOFER WA. Solving the Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen puzzle: the origin of non-locality in Aspect-type experiments. Frontiers of Physics 2012, 7, 504-508.
  • Cun HY, Wang YL, Du SX, Zhang L, Zhang LZ, Yang B, He XB, Wang Y, Zhu XY, Yuan QZ, Zhao YP, Ouyang M, Hofer WA, Pennycook SJ, Gao HJ. Tuning Structural and Mechanical Properties of Two-Dimensional Molecular Crystals: The Roles of Carbon Side Chains. Nano Letters 2012, 12, 1229-1234.
  • Harikumar KR, Polanyi JC, Zabet-Khosousi A, Czekala P, Lin HP, Hofer WA. Directed long-range molecular migration energized by surface reaction. Nature Chemistry 2011, 3, 400-408.
  • Ebrahimi M, Huang K, Lu XK, Mcnab IR, Polanyi JC, Wagar Z, Yang JSY, Lin HP, Hofer WA. Facile Charge-Displacement at Silicon Gives Spaced-out Reaction. Journal of the American Chemical Society 2011, 133, 16560-16565.
  • Harikumar KR, Mcnab IR, Polanyi JC, Zabet-Khosousi A, Hofer WA. Imprinting self-assembled patterns of lines at a semiconductor surface, using heat, light, or electrons. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 2011, 108, 950-955.
  • Leung L, Lim T, Polanyi JC, Hofer WA. Molecular Calipers Control Atomic Separation at a Metal Surface. Nano Letters 2011, 11, 4113-4117.
  • Palotas K, Hofer WA, Szunyogh L. Simulation of spin-polarized scanning tunneling microscopy on complex magnetic surfaces: Case of a Cr monolayer on Ag(111). Physical Review B 2011, 84, 174428.
  • Harikumar KR, McNab IR, Polanyi JC, Zabet-Khosousi A, Panosetti C, Hofer WA. Stereo-isomerism controls surface reactivity: 1-chloropentane-pairs on Si(100)-2x1. Chemical Communications 2011, 47, 12101-12103.
  • Palotas K, Hofer WA, Szunyogh L. Theoretical study of the role of the tip in enhancing the sensitivity of differential conductance tunneling spectroscopy on magnetic surfaces. Physical Review B 2011, 83, 214410.
  • HOFER WA. Unconventional Approach to Orbital-Free Density Functional Theory Derived from a Model of Extended Electrons. Foundations of Physics 2011, 41, 754-791.
  • Heinrich BW, Iacovita C, Brumme T, Choi DJ, Limot L, Rastei MV, Hofer WA, Kortus J, Bucher JP. Direct Observation of the Tunneling Channels of a Chemisorbed Molecule. Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters 2010, 1, 1517-1523.
  • Papageorgiou AC, Beglitis NS, Pang CL, Teobaldi G, Cabailh G, Chen Q, Fisher AJ, Hofer WA, Thornton G. Electron traps and their effect on the surface chemistry of TiO2 (110). Proceeedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 2010, 107, 2391-2396.
  • Harikumar KR, Leung L, Mcnab IR, Polanyi JC, Lin HP, Hofer WA. Cooperative molecular dynamics in surface reactions. Nature Chemistry 2009, 1, 716-721.
  • Enevoldsen GH, Pinto HP, Foster AS, Jensen MCR, Hofer WA, Hammer B, Lauritsen JV, Besenbacher F. Imaging of the Hydrogen Subsurface Site in Rutile TiO2. Physical Review Letters 2009, 102, 136103.
  • Wang YF, Kroger J, Berndt R, Hofer WA. Pushing and Pulling a Sn Ion through an Adsorbed Phthalocyanine Molecule. Journal of the American Chemical Society 2009, 131, 3639-3643.
  • Wang YF, Kroger J, Berndt R, Hofer WA. Structural and Electronic Properties of Ultrathin Tin-Phthalocyanine Films on Ag(111) at the Single-Molecule Level. Angewandte Chemie International Edition 2009, 1261-1265.
  • Wang YF, Ge X, Manzano C, Kroger J, Berndt R, Hofer WA, Tang H, Cerda J. Supramolecular Patterns Controlled by Electron Interference and Direct Intermolecular Interactions. Journal of the American Chemical Society 2009, 131, 10400-10408.
  • Gao L, Liu Q, Zhang YY, Jiang N, Zhang HG, Cheng ZH, Qiu WF, Du SX, Liu YQ, Hofer WA, Gao HJ. Constructing an Array of Anchored Single-Molecule Rotors on Gold Surfaces. Physical Review Letters 2008, 101, 197209.
  • Enevoldsen GH, Pinto HP, Foster AS, Jensen MCR, Kuhnle A, Reichling M, Hofer WA, Lauritsen JV, Besenbacher F. Detailed scanning probe microscopy tip models determined from simultaneous atom-resolved AFM and STM studies of the TiO(2)(110) surface. Physical Review B 2008, 78, 045416.
  • Harikumar KR, Lim TB, Mcnab IR, Polanyi JC, Zotti L, Ayissi S, Hofer WA. Dipole-directed assembly of lines of 1,5-dichloropentane on silicon substrates by displacement of surface charge. Nature Nanotechnology 2008, 3, 222-228.
  • Torrelles X, Cabailh G, Lindsay R, Bikondoa O, Roy J, Zegenhagen J, Teobaldi G, Hofer WA, Thornton G. Geometric Structure of TiO2(011)(2x1). Physical Review Letters 2008, 101, 185501.
  • Hofer WA, Palotas K, Rusponi S, Cren T, Brune H. Role of hydrogen in giant spin polarization observed on magnetic nanostructures. Physical Review Letters 2008, 100, 026806.
  • Zotti LA, Teobaldi G, Hofer WA, Auwarter W, Weber-Bargioni A, Barth JV. Ab-initio calculations and STM observations on tetrapyridyl and Fe(II)-tetrapyridyl-porphyrin molecules on Ag(111). Surface Science 2007, 601, 2409-2414.
  • Neel N, Kroger J, Limot L, Palotas K, Hofer WA, Berndt R. Conductance and Kondo effect in a controlled single-atom contact. Physical Review Letters 2007, 98, 016801.
  • Teobaldi G, Penalba M, Arnau A, Lorente N, Hofer WA. Including the probe tip in theoretical models of inelastic scanning tunneling spectroscopy: CO on Cu(100). Physical Review B 2007, 76, 235407.
  • Teobaldi G, Hofer WA, Bikondoa O, Pang CL, Cabailh G, Thornton G. Modelling STM images of TiO(2)(110) from first-principles: Defects, water adsorption and dissociation products. Chemical Physics Letters 2007, 437, 73-78.
  • Ruffieux P, Palotas K, Groning O, Wasserfallen D, Mullen K, Hofer WA, Groning P, Fasel R. Site- and orientation-selective anchoring of a prototypical molecular building block. Journal of the American Chemical Society 2007, 129, 5007-5011.
  • Gao L, Ji W, Hu YB, Cheng ZH, Deng ZT, Liu Q, Jiang N, Lin X, Guo W, Du SX, Hofer WA, Xie XC, Gao HJ. Site-specific Kondo effect at ambient temperatures in iron-based molecules. Physical Review Letters 2007, 99, 106402.
  • Zotti LA, Hofer WA, Giessibl FJ. Electron scattering in scanning probe microscopy experiments. Chemical Physics Letters 2006, 420, 177-182.
  • Harikumar KR, Polanyi JC, Sloan PA, Ayissi S, Hofer WA. Electronic switching of single silicon atoms by molecular field effects. Journal of the American Chemical Society 2006, 128, 16791-16797.
  • Xiao WD, Ruffieux P, Ait-Mansour K, Groning O, Palotas K, Hofer WA, Groning P, Fasel R. Formation of a regular fullerene nanochain lattice. Journal of Physical Chemistry B 2006, 110, 21394-21398.
  • Shi D, Ji W, Lin X, He X, Lian J, Gao L, Cai J, Lin H, Du SX, Lin F, Seidel C, Chi L, Hofer WA, Fuchs H, Gao HJ. Role of lateral alkyl chains in modulation of molecular structures on metal surfaces. Physical Review Letters 2006, 96, 226101.
  • Deng ZT, Lin H, Ji W, Gao L, Lin X, Cheng ZH, He XB, Lu JL, Shi DX, Hofer WA, Gao HJ. Selective analysis of molecular states by functionalized scanning tunneling microscopy tips. Physical Review Letters 2006, 96, 156102.
  • Dobrin S, Harikumar KR, Jones RV, Li N, McNab IR, Polanyi JC, Sloan PA, Waqar Z, Yang J, Ayissi S, Hofer WA. Self-assembled molecular corrals on a semiconductor surface. Surface Science 2006, 600, L43-L47.
  • Wasserfallen D, Kastler M, Pisula W, Hofer WA, Fogel Y, Wang ZH, Mullen K. Suppressing aggregation in a large polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon. Journal of the American Chemical Society 2006, 128, 1334-1339.
  • Limot L, Kroger J, Berndt R, Garcia-Lekue A, Hofer WA. Atom transfer and single-adatom contacts. Physical Review Letters 2005, 94, 126102.
  • Hofer WA, Garcia-Lekue A. Differential tunneling spectroscopy simulations: Imaging surface states. Physical Review B 2005, 71, 085401.
  • Piva PG, DiLabio GA, Pitters JL, Zikovsky J, Rezeq M, Dogel S, Hofer WA, Wolkow RA. Field regulation of single-molecule conductivity by a charged surface atom. Nature 2005, 435, 658-661.
  • Palotas K, Hofer WA. Multiple scattering in a vacuum barrier obtained from real-space wavefunctions. Journal of Physics Condensed Matter 2005, 17, 2705-2713.
  • Africh C, Lin HP, Corso M, Esch F, Rosei R, Hofer WA, Comelli G. Water production reaction on Rh(110). Journal of the American Chemical Society 2005, 127, 11454-11459.
  • Calleja F, Arnau A, Hinarejos JJ, de-Parga ALV, Hofer WA, Echenique PM, Miranda R. Contrast reversal and shape changes of atomic adsorbates measured with scanning tunneling microscopy. Physical Review Letters 2004, 92, 206101.
  • Hofer WA, Humblot V, Raval R. Conveying chirality onto the electronic structure of achiral metals: (R,R)-tartaric acid on nickel. Surface Science 2004, 554, 141-149.
  • Hofer WA, Garcia-Lekue A, Brune H. The role of surface elasticity in giant corrugations observed by scanning tunneling microscopes. Chemical Physics Letters 2004, 397, 354-359.
  • HOFER WA. Challenges and errors: interpreting high resolution images in scanning tunneling microscopy. Progress in Surface Science 2003, 71, 147-183.
  • Hofer WA, Fisher AJ. Signature of a chemical bond in the conductance between two metal surfaces. Physical Review Letters 2003, 91, 036803.
  • Hofer WA, Foster AS, Shluger AL. Theories of scanning probe microscopes at the atomic scale. Reviews of Modern Physics 2003, 75, 1287-1331.
  • Hofer WA, Fisher AJ, Lopinski GP, Wolkow RA. Electronic structure and STM images of self-assembled styrene lines on a Si(100) surface. Chemical Physics Letters 2002, 365, 129-134.
  • Humblot V, Haq S, Muryn C, Hofer WA, Raval R. From local adsorption stresses to chiral surfaces: (R,R)-tartaric acid on Ni(110). Journal of the American Chemical Society 2002, 124, 503-510.
  • Nichols RJ, Nouar T, Lucas CA, Haiss W, Hofer WA. Surface relaxation and surface stress of Au(111). Surface Science 2002, 513, 263-271.
  • Hofer WA, Fisher AJ, Lopinski GP, Wolkow RA. Adsorption of benzene on Si(100)-(2x1): Adsorption energies and STM image analysis by ab initio methods. Physical Review B 2001, 63, 085314.
  • Hofer WA, Fisher AJ, Wolkow RA. Adsorption sites and STM images of C2H2 on Si(100): a first principles study. Surface Science 2001, 475, 83-88.
  • Hofer WA, Fisher AJ, Wolkow RA, Grutter P. Surface relaxations, current enhancements, and absolute distances in high resolution scanning tunneling microscopy. Physical Review Letters 2001, 87, 236104.
  • Hofer WA, Redinger J, Biedermann A, Varga P. Limits of perturbation theory: first principles simulations of scanning tunneling microscopy scans on Fe(100). Surface Science 2000, 466, L795-L801.
  • Hofer WA, Redinger J. Scanning tunneling microscopy of binary alloys: first principles calculation of the current for PtX (100) surfaces. Surface Science 2000, 447, 51-61.
  • Hofer WA, Ritz G, Hebenstreit W, Schmid M, Varga P, Redinger J. Scanning tunneling microscopy of binary-alloy surfaces: is chemical contrast a consequence of alloying?. Surface Science 1998, 405, L514-L519.