Ahmed H. Zewail Biography

Chemist, Scientist, Educator (1946–2016)
Chemist Ahmed H. Zewail won the Nobel Prize for Chemistry for developing a rapid laser technique that let scientists study atoms during chemical reactions.


Chemist Ahmed H. Zewail was born February 26, 1946, Damanhur, Egypt. In 1999 he won the Nobel Prize for Chemistry, first Egyptian and Arab to do so in the science field, for developing a rapid laser technique that enabled scientists to study the action of atoms during chemical reactions and gain more control over the outcome. The breakthrough created a new field of physical chemistry known as femtochemistry. Zewail had a long career as a Linus Pauling professor of chemistry and director of the Physical Biology Center for Ultrafast Science and Technology at the California Institute of Technology. A dual American and Egyptian citizen since 1982, in 2009, President Barack Obama appointed Zewail to the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology and he was later named the First United States Science Envoy to the Middle East. He founded the Zewail City of Science and Technology, a nonprofit educational institution for research and innovation in Cairo. In 2013, he joined the United Nations Scientific Advisory Board. Zewail died on August 2, 2016 at the age of 70.

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