Born: February 26, 1946 (age 64)
Nationality: Egyptian, American
Fields : Chemistry, Physics
Nobel Prize for Chemistry (1999)
The Franklin Medal (1998)
(Wolf Prize 1993)
Priestley Medal (2011)
Birth and education:
Ahmad Zewail was born on February 26, 1946 in Damanhur and raised in Disuq. He received bachelor’s degree and MS 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-doctoral fellowship at the University of California, Berkeley with advisor Dr. Charles B. Harris.
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 Egyptian president Anwar Al-Sadat (1978 in Peace) and Naguib Mahfouz (1988 in Literature). Other international awards include the Wolf Prize in Chemistry (1993) awarded to him by the Wolf Foundation, the Tolman Medal (1997), the Robert A. Welch Award (1997), and the Priestley Medal from the American Chemical Society in 2011. In 1999, he received Egypt’s highest state honor, the Grand Collar of the Nile.
Zewail was awarded a PHD Honoris Causa by Lund University in Sweden in May 2003 and is a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. Cambridge University awarded him an Honorary Doctorate in Science in 2006. In May 2008, Zewail received a PHD Honoris Causa from Complutense University of Madrid. In February, 2009, Zewail was awarded an honorary PHD in arts and sciences by the University of Jordan. In May 2010, he received a PHD Honoris Causa in Humane Letters from South-western University.