Nobel-prize winner Ahmed Zewail was Born in Damanhour, Egypt in 1946 and Raised in Desouk, Egypt. He attended Alexandria University where he received his Bachelor of Science, as well as his Master of Science. Zewail moved to United States with his wife to finish his doctorate under his mentor Hochstrasser at University of Pennsylvania. Then, he completed his post-doctoral fellowship at University of California, Berkeley. He was then employed at Caltech in 1976 to teach and complete research.
Zewail specialized in Femtochemistry. Femtochemistry is a field of chemistry that studies reactions occurring in a matter of 10^−15 seconds (One quadrillionth of a second). Zewail and his associates desired to observe all processes from life to death within a particular molecule. By using a rapid laser technique, he observed chemical reactions’ descriptions in very short time scales. This allowed him to analyze transition sites within chemical reactions. His research asked the question, “How fast does the energy in a large molecule (such as naphthalene) restructure among the entire atomic motion?” (NobelPrize.org) Therefore he created a tool; his rapid laser technique. By using this rapid ultrafast laser technique, it allowed for the descriptions of chemical reactions. It also proved that the movement of of each molecule is coherent, and overall showed the importance of consistency in multi-faceted molecular systems. Zewail was the first Egyptian scientist to win the Nobel Prize. He also received Egypt’s highest honor, Grand Collar of The Nile Award. His nobel lecture was titled “Femtochemistry: Atomic-Scale Dynamics of the Chemical Bond Using Ultrafast Lasers”. After receiving these awards he continued research on redistribution of vibrational energy and brief time resolutions for molecules showcasing diverse rational motions and chemical processes.
Zewail had a brief moment in politics. At Cairo University, Obama announced new a program on Science Envoy as fresh start between US and Muslims around the world. Zewail was placed on President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology. It was rumored that Zewail was to run in Egypt’s presidential election, but he didn’t as he set out to finish his life completing research. Zewail died of cancer in August 2016, yet will always be remembered as ‘The Father of Femtochemistry’.
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