Nobel Prize
Press Release
Presentation Speech

Acceptance Speech


Research Themes

Center for Ultrafast Science & Technology

Laboratory for Molecular Sciences


Research Family

Global Issues and Science Education


Nobel Prize

Ahmed Zewail receiving the Nobel Prize from His Majesty the King of Sweden at the Stockholm Concert Hall on December 10, 1999.

Arrow of the Chemistry &

Femtochemistry: Atomic-Scale Dynamics of the Chemical Bond Using Ultrafast Lasers
(Nobel Lecture), Angew. Chem., Int. Ed. Engl. 39, 2586 (2000).

Over many millennia, humankind has thought to explore phenomena on an ever shorter time scale. In this race against time, femtosecond resolution (1 fs = 10-15 second) is the ultimate achievement for studies of the fundamental dynamics of the chemical bond. Observation of the very act that brings about chemistry - the making and breaking of bonds on their actual time and length scales - is the wellspring of the field of Femtochemistry, which is the study of molecular motions in the hitherto unobserved ephemeral transition states of physical, chernical and biological changes...

Originally published in Les Prix Nobel: The Nobel Prizes 1999, ed. T. Frängsmyr, Almqvist&Wiksell, Stockholm, 2000, p. 110; reproduced in Nobel Lectures, Chemistry 1996-2000, ed. I. Grenthe, World Scientific, Singapore, 2003, p. 274.

Coherent Thinking

Coherent Thinking, Eng. Sci. 62, 7 (1999).

At 5:40 in the doggone morning on Tuesday, October 12, Ahmed Zewail got a phone call. But it wasn't a wrong number or a particularly ambitious aluminum-window salesman - it was the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences informing him he had won the 1999 Nobel Prize in chemistry. The citation reads, in part, that Zewail "is being rewarded for his pioneering investigation of fundamental chemical reactions, using ultra-short laser flashes on the time scale on which the reactions actually occur"...