Franklin Laureate Database
Ahmed H. Zewail
Linus Pauling Professor of Chemistry and Physics, Director of NSF Lab of Molecular Sciences, California Institute of Technology
Award: Benjamin Franklin
Citation: For his application of ultrafast lasers to probe chemical reactions contributing to the formation of a new field of research called "femtochemistry."
Ahmed Zewail received his Ph.D. in chemistry from the University of Pennsylvania in 1974, then went directly to work as an IBM research fellow at the University of California, Berkeley. He was appointed to the faculty at California Institute of Technology in 1976, was tenured within two years and in 1982 became a full professor. In 1990 he was honored by that prestigious institute's first Linus Pauling Chair and, in 1995, he received the Order of Merit, first class. Zewail is recognized for his pioneering work in the new and growing field of "femtochemistry," which has already had an impact on chemical, biological, and medical research all over the world, and is someday expected to yield practical results by allowing improved control of chemical processes used in manufacturing and drug design.