Ahmed Zewail


Ahmed Zewail, Chemistry Stamps

Ahmed Hassan Zewail (Arabic: أحمد حسن زويل) (born February 26, 1946 in Damanhur, Egypt) is an Egyptian American scientist, and the winner of the 1999 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his work on femtochemistry.

Birth and education

Ahmed Zewail was born on February 26, 1946 in Damanhur (60 km south-east of Alexandria) and raised in Disuq. He received his first degree from the University of Alexandria before moving from Egypt to the United States to complete his PhD at the University of Pennsylvania with advisor Dr.Robin Hochstrasser. He completed a post doctorate at the University of California, Berkeley.

Academic career

After some post doctorate work at UC-Berkeley, he was awarded a faculty appointment at Caltech in 1976, where he has remained since. He became a naturalized citizen of the United States in 1982, and in 1990, he was made the first Linus Pauling Chair in Chemical Physics.


Zewail's key work has been as the pioneer of femtochemistry—i.e. the study of chemical reactions across femtoseconds. Using a rapid ultrafast laser technique (consisting of ultrashort laser flashes), the technique allows the description of reactions on very short time scales - short enough to analyse transition states in selected chemical reactions.

In 1999, Zewail became the third ethnic Egyptian to receive the Nobel Prize, following Anwar Sadat (1978 in Peace) and Naguib Mahfouz (1988 in Literature). Other international awards include the Wolf Prize in Chemistry (1993) and the Robert A. Welch Award (1997). In 1999, he received Egypt's highest state honour, the Grand Collar of the Nile.

Cambridge University awarded him an Honorary Doctorate in Science in 2006.

Zewail is married, and has four children.


Ahmed Zewail was one of the original editors of the Encyclopedia of Analytical Chemistry


* Ahmed Zewail's Caltech website

List of chemists

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