Professor Hess is a founder of the area of computational electronics. He has also contributed substantially in the areas of solid-state electronics; the physics and chemistry of molecular and electronic nanostructures; and theory and simulation of solid-state electronic devices, including optoelectronic devices such as diode lasers. He helped to create a Center for Computational Electronics at the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology at UIUC. During the formative years of the Beckman Institute, he chaired the committee that formulated the proposal for the Beckman Institute from the physical science community.
Over the past fifteen years, with his graduate students, Professor Hess developed the Full Band Monte Carlo method. With his coworkers, he developed the most complete existing computer-aided design tool for quantum well laser diodes. Other work contributed to the theory of electronic transport, in particular to transport between different solids (real space transfer), and to the discovery of a giant isotope effect in the aging of integrated circuits in silicon technology (chips).
Professor Hess was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 2003. He is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, American Physical Society, and American Association for the Advancement of Science. He received the J.J. Ebers Award; Sarnoff Technical Field Award; Heinrich Welker Memorial Award; and an honorary Doctor of Science degree, ETH, Zurich, Switzerland. At UIUC, he has been a Center for Advanced Study Associate, University Scholar, Tau Beta Pi Daniel C. Drucker Eminent Faculty Awardee, and Swanlund Endowed Chair. In 2010, he became a foreign member of Acatech, The National Academy of Engineering of Germany.