Mustafa Amr El-Sayed was born in 1933 in Egypt and received his B.Sc. from Ain Shams University (Cairo) and Ph.D. from Florida State University. A leading nanoscientist and physical chemist, El-Sayed is also known for the spectroscopy rule named after him, the “El- Sayyed Rule.” After completing his doctorate degree, he held fellowships at Harvard and Yale Universities and the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) before joining the University of California at Los Angeles (1961-1994) where he became Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry. He was also Visiting Professor at the American University in Beirut and the University of Southern France.
Professor El-Sayed and his group made seminal contributions to physical and material chemistry research, including the use of steady and ultra-fast laser spectroscopy to elucidate reaction kinetics and specificities in complex chemical systems relevant to life processes, such as energy conversion and transfer, photosynthesis, photochemistry and physico-chemical cycles undergone by the bacteriorhodops. They developed several new spectroscopic techniques and are currently focusing on studying the physical and chemical properties of noble metal nanoparticles and their applications in nanocatalysis, nanophotonic and nanomedicine. El-Sayed’s laboratory is known for developing the gold nanorod technology. He published more than 500 scientific papers and supervised the research of more than 70 Ph.D. students, 35 postdoctoral fellows and 20 visiting professors.
He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and Member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the National Academy of Science, the Third World Academy of Science, the American Chemical Society and the American Physical Society. He was Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Physical Chemistry and the International Reviews of Physical Chemistry. He also served as Member at Large, Vice-Chairman and Chairman of the Physical Chemistry Division of the International Union for Pure and Applied Chemistry, Councellor for the Institute of Molecular Science in Okazaki, Japan, and Member of the Board of Science and Technology of the National Research Council and the Chemistry Division of the National Science Foundation.
In 1994, Professor El-Sayed joined Georgia Institute of Technology where he is now the Julius Brown Chair and Regent Professor and Director of the Laser Dynamics Laboratory at the School of Chemistry and Biochemistry. In 2007, he was the Miller Visiting Professor at the University of California at Berkley.
In addition to the King Faisal International Prize for Science, Professor El-Sayed received many prestigious awards and honors, including, the Irving Langmuir Award in Chemical Physics, Sherman Fairchild Distinguished Scholar Award from Caltech, Alexander von Humboldt Senior U.S. Scientist award and the “Class of 1943 Distinguished Professor,” which is the highhest award from Gerorgia Tech. In 2007, he was awarded the US National Medal of Science. In 2009, he was awarded the Ahmed Zewail Prize in Molecular Sciences.
Professor El-Sayed is an outstanding physical chemist. His high-quality work has placed him in the forefront of contemporary spectroscopists.
He has used spectroscopic methods, including lasers in the study of rapid chemical reaction kinetics. His work Culminated in the elucidation of the mechanism underlying the light energy storage reaction involving bacteriorhodopsin.