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"For his seminal and outstanding contributions to chemical physics, pioneering work on the development and studies of molecular dynamics with ultrafast lasers, novel multiple-pulse optical coherence techniques and ultrafast electron diffraction, and for his breakthrough development of the field of femtochemistry which opened up worldwide research in theory and experiment on dynamics at the atomic-scale time resolution."Background:
A native of Egypt, Zewail received his Ph D in chemical physics from the University of Pennsylvania in 1974. He spent two years at the university of California, Berkeley, as an IBM Research Fellow prior to joining the faculty of Caltech in 1976. He is currently the Linus Pauling Professor of Chemical Physics.
Zewail pioneered the development of femtosecond and picosecond chemistry in molecular beams. Using ultra-fast lasers and molecular-beam technology, his research led to the direct observation of the real-time dynamics of chemical reactions at their most fundamental level, such as quantum state-to-state rates, energy redistribution, and femtosecond spectroscopy of transition states. His earlier contributions to laser spectroscopy include the development of multiple-pulse laser spectroscopy to analyze molecular dephasing in condensed media.