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Professor Dr. Ahmed Zewail

A Nobel prize scientist, a brilliant chemist, with a remarkable breakthrough in molecular biology.

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Zewail's first steps in the United States of America

After receiving a bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees in Chemistry from Alexandria University, Egypt; Dr. Ahmed Zewail moved to the US to complete his PhD at the University of Pennsylvania, USA in the year of 1969. On one of the talk shows that Dr. Zewail encountered, he stated, “The journey from Egypt to the US has been full of surprises. I had massive thrill when I used to watch TV and recognize famous scientists travelling abroad to find their path.” He thought to himself that one day he would be in their position to achieve accomplishments in either science or literature. After completing his PhD, Dr. Zewail was awarded a faculty appointment at the California Institute of Technology in 1976. Dr. Zewail was the first to create the Linus Pauling Chair in Chemical Physics.

Dr. Zewail also participated in President Obama’s Presidential Council of Advisers on Science and Technology. This group of leading scientists and engineers to advise the President and Vice president to formulate policy in the areas of science.


Dr. Ahmed Zewail gave his Nobel Lecture on “Femtochemistry: Atomic Scale Dynamics of the Chemical Bond Using Ultrafast Lasers in October 2006. Femtochemistry presents a timely contribution to a field central to the understanding of the dynamics of the chemical bond. This century has witnessed great strides in time and space resolutions, down to the atomic scale, providing chemists, biologists and physicists with unprecedented opportunities for seeing microscopic structures and dynamics. Femtochemistry is concerned with the time resolution of the most elementary motions of atoms during chemical change and bond breaking. This atomic scale of time resolution has now reached the ultimate for the chemical bond and as Lord George Porter puts it, chemists are near the end of the race against time. These two volumes cover the general concepts, techniques and applications of femtochemistry.

Professor Ahmed Zewail, who has made the pioneering contributions in this field, has from over 250 publications selected the articles for this anthology. These volumes begin with a commentary and a historical chronology of the milestones. He then presents a broad perspective of the current state of knowledge in femtochemistry by researchers around the world and discusses possible new directions. In the words of a colleague, ”it is a must on the reading-list for all of my students … all readers will find this to be an informative and valuable overview.”

Influx that affected American society

After Zewail was officially an American citizen in 1982, he was the first to develop the rapid laser technique that enabled scientists to study the action of atoms during chemical reactions. This breakthrough was a new field of Physical Chemistry known as “femtochemistry.” Consequently, he was awarded these incredible prizes:

1. Wolf Prize in Chemistry (1993)

2. Robert A Welch Award in Chemistry (1997)

3. Benjamin Franklin Medal (1998)

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