Ahmed H. Zewail

Nobel Prize 1999

Who won?

Name: Ahmed H. Zewail


Date and place of birth: February 26, 1946, Damanhur, Egypt


Education: University of Alexandria, University of Pennsylvania, and University of California at Berkeley


Place of work when awarded: Caltech


Field of study: Physical chemistry (kinetics)


Interesting Facts:

-After being awarded the Nobel Prize, he taught as a professor at Caltech.

-His research group included 150 graduate students.

-He was the only son in a family of three sisters.

What did he do?

  • Created a rapid laser technique, femtosecond spectroscopy, that helped scientists study the action of atoms in a chemical reaction


  • Helped scientists gain more control of the outcome of the reactions


  • Breakthrough introduced a new field of physical chemistry called femtochemistry


  • Began to study more of the transition states in chemical reactions


  • Lab work included using the rapid laser to enable him to describe chemical reactions that happened in a short span of time- a matter of femtoseconds


  • One of his experiments included isolating an anthracene molecule.


  • Accomplished his goal of witnessing all of the processes from birth to death of a molecule, including coherent movements of each molecule

Why does his work matter?


  • helps explain the mechanisms involved in essential life processes like photosynthesis


  • scientists previously thought that a molecule had to overcome an energy barrier to react but Zewail found that high temperatures allowed molecules to immediately overcome the barrier and start reacting rapidly


  • experiments led to formation of femtochemistry: uses high-speed, laser based camera that flashed light every ten femtoseconds


  • used during Chemical reactions to depict atoms in transition states/ explains mechanisms behind processes


  • discovered intermediates: substances that are made and used up in the reaction


  • femtosecond studies used across the world to observe and analyze processes on surfaces


  • ex: to understand catalysts(elements that accelerate the reaction); build on that information to improve/ more effectively use catalysts

Works cited

"The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 1999". Nobelprize.org. Nobel Media AB 2014. Web. 5 Jan

2016. <http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/chemistry/laureates/1999/>

By: Anisha Reddy

Anisha Wadawadigi

Rohan Sharma


3rd prd