Priestley Medal Awarded

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  • Author: ChemViews
  • Published Date: 28 March 2011
  • Source / Publisher: American Chemical Society
  • Copyright: Wiley-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA
thumbnail image: Priestley Medal Awarded

Ahmed H. Zewail, 1999 Chemistry Nobel Laureate and Linus Pauling Professor of Chemistry and Professor of Physics at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), CA, USA, has been awarded the 2011 Priestley Medal by the American Chemical Society (ACS).


The award recognizes Zewail's "ultraslow-motion" imaging techniques for the study of ultrafast processes in chemistry, biology and materials science, through the use of femtochemistry. This allows the study of chemical processes on the femtosecond timescale by using lasers to capture frames of the motion of atoms and molecules as they undergo reactions. Zewail has also developed four-dimensional electron microscopy and associated methods to visualize materials and biological cells with unprecedented resolutions in both space and time.


Zewail was born in 1946 in Egypt. He studied at the University of Alexandria, Egypt, and earned a Ph.D. in 1974 from the University of Pennsylvania, USA. After two years at the University of California at Berkeley, he moved to Caltech. In addition to his academic duties, he is also on the US President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology and the first United States Science Envoy to the Middle East. 


The award is the highest honor bestowed by the ACS, and consists of a certificate and a gold medallion commemorating the work of Joseph Priestley, the discoverer of oxygen.


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