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The Chemical Educator

ISSN: 1430-4171 (electronic version)

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Abstract Volume 7 Issue 2 (2002) pp 100-119

Observing the Femtoworld of Molecules: The 1999 Nobel Prize in Chemistry

George B. Kauffman* and Laurie M. Kauffman

Department of Chemistry, California State University, Fresno, Fresno, CA 93740-8034

Published online: 15 March 2002

Abstract. The Egyptian-born chemist Ahmed H. Zewail of the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena was awarded the 1999 Nobel Prize for Chemistry “for his studies of the transition states of chemical reactions using femtosecond spectroscopy.” Zewail’s career is described from his youth in Egypt to his latest discoveries in the field that he almost single-handedly developed, with extensive quotations from the laureate. The advances in chemical dynamics from the turn of the 20th century to the present are reviewed with emphasis on Zewail’s contributions. Applications and future possibilities for femtochemistry are also considered.

Key Words:  Chemistry and History; biography; Nobel prize; physical chemistry; chemical bonding, molecular dynamics; femtochemistry; spectroscopy; lasers; reaction mechanisms; kinetics; thermodynamics; instrumentation

(*) Corresponding author. (E-mail:

Article in PDF format (1.75 MB) HTML format

Issue date: April 5, 2002

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