Hans von Känel obtained his Ph.D. in natural sciences from the ETH in Zürich, Switzerland, in 1978. His major fields of study have been low-dimensional magnetism, liquid crystals, semiconductor photoelectro-chemistry, epitaxial interfaces and surfaces, scanning probe techniques, and epitaxial growth. He was a Post-doctoral Associate at MIT in Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA, from 1979 to 1981, and the leader of the semiconductor electrochemistry and Si heterostructures groups at the ETH in Zürich from 1981 to 2002, where he invented the technique of low-energy plasma-enhanced chemical vapor deposition (LEPECVD).
From 2002 to 2007 he was ordinary professor of physics at the Politecnico di Milano. During this time he built up and directed the laboratory for semiconductor hetero- and nanostructures at L-NESS located in Como. L-NESS is a joint research center of the Politecnico di Milano and the University of Milano Bicocca founded in 2002. From 2003-2010 he was the CTO of the ETH spin-off company EpiSpeed. He has co-authored more than 350 scientific publications and 15 patent applications.