Ahmed Zewail (26 February 1946 — 2 August 2016) was an Egyptian-American scientist who won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1999 for his pioneering work in femtochemistry.

Life and Career

He was born on 26 February 1946, in Damanhour, Egypt. He received his Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees in Chemistry from the University of Alexandria in Egypt. He then earned his Ph.D. in chemical physics from the University of Pennsylvania in the United States in 1974.

He then worked at the University of California, Berkeley, and the California Institute of Technology, where he spent most of his career.

He’s also been a visiting professor at Texas A&M, Iowa, and American universities.

His most significant contributions to science were in the field of femtochemistry, which involves studying chemical reactions on extremely short timescales, measured in femtoseconds (10^-15 seconds). Using a technique called femtosecond spectroscopy, he was able to capture images of chemical reactions as they occurred, providing insights into the fundamental processes of chemistry.

Zewail was also an advocate for science education and international cooperation in scientific research. He served as a science advisor to both the United States and the United Nations, and he was a member of many scientific organizations and advisory boards.

He founded Zewail City of Science and Technology, one of Cairo’s best technology institutes.

He died on 2 August 2016, in Pasadena, California, U.S.


He won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1999 for his pioneering work in femtochemistry. He became the first Egyptian to receive a science Nobel Prize.

In 1999, he also received Egypt’s highest state honor, the Grand Collar of the Nile.

In October 2006, Zewail received the Albert Einstein World Award for Science.

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