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Fellows Directory

Ahmed Zewail

Ahmed Zewail

Professor Ahmed Zewail ForMemRS

Foreign Member

Elected: 2001


Ahmed Zewail was a Nobel Prize-winning scientist who developed a rapid laser technique that allows scientists to study atoms during chemical reactions. An influential voice in science, Ahmed participated in the US President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, a group of leading scientists and engineers who provide recommendations on science, technology, and innovation policy. In the Middle East, Ahmed was Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Zewail City of Science and Technology, a project of the Egyptian government.

Ahmed’s technique used ultrashort — femtosecond — laser flashes to enable the control and analysis of transition states in chemical reactions and heralded the new field of femtoscience. By creating new ways to visualise and understand functional behaviour of chemical and biological systems, Ahmed’s work supported improvements in many existing manufacturing processes.

Ahmed won the 1999 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, at the same time becoming the first Egyptian scientist to win a Nobel Prize in a scientific field. In 2002, he published his autobiography, Voyage through Time: Walks of Life to the Nobel Prize.

Professor Ahmed Zewail ForMemRS died on 2 August 2016.

Biographical Memoir

Interest and expertise

Subject groups

  • Chemistry
    • Chemistry, physical, Chemistry, biological, Chemistry, theoretical
  • Other
    • History of science, Public understanding of science


Lasers, chemical and biological dynamics


  • Davy Medal

    For his seminal contributions to the study of ultrafast reactions and the understanding of transition states in chemistry, and to dynamic electron microscopy.

  • King Faisal International Prize

    In the field of physics.

  • Nobel Prize in Chemistry

    For his studies of the transition states of chemical reactions using femtosecond spectroscopy.

  • Wolf Prize

    In the field of chemistry for pioneering the development of laser femtochemistry. Using lasers and molecular beams, femtochemistry has made it now possible to probe the evolution of chemical reactions as they actually happen in real time.

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