El-Sayed, Mostafa A.

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Professor Emeritus
National Academy of Sciences

Contact Information

Laser Dynamics Laboratory

Short Biography

B.Sc., Ain Shams U. Cairo, Egypt; Ph.D., Florida State University; Postdoctoral Fellow, Yale University (1958-59), Harvard University (1959-60), California Institute of Technology (1960-61); Faculty, UCLA Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry (1961-94); Julius Brown Chair and Regents’ Professor, Georgia Institute of Technology Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry (1994-present)


Dr. Mostafa El-Sayed, a native-born Egyptian, received his B.Sc. at Ain Shams University (1953) in Cairo, Egypt, and his Ph.D. degree at Florida State University (1958) in Tallahassee, Florida. After doing postdoctoral work at Yale, Harvard, and CalTech, he joined the faculty at UCLA in 1961. In 1994, he moved to Georgia Tech and became the Julius Brown Chair, Regents Professor, and the Director of the Laser Dynamics Laboratory.

El-Sayed has published over 500 papers in peer-reviewed journals, delivered over 50 endowed lectures and over 250 invited or plenary talks at national and international conferences. He has supervised the research of over 80 Ph.D students and over 50 postdoctoral fellows. His research covers the fields of molecular dynamics in systems ranging from gaseous molecules to condensed crystalline, amorphous, and biological systems. His group has contributed significantly to the field of semiconductor nano-crystals, as well as transition and noble metal particles and their applications in nano-(shape-dependent) catalysis and nano-(surface plasmon) photonics. Most recently he has exploited the use of antibody-conjugated metal nanoparticles for cancer diagnostics and photothermal therapy.

El-Sayed is an elected member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences (1980), an elected Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, an Associate member of the Third World Academy of Science, and a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and of the American Physical Society. In 1980 he was appointed Editor of the Journal of Physical Chemistry and – over the course of the following 25 years – inspired and shepherded its transformation into one of the premier interdisciplinary research journals in the world. He has received the 1990 King Faisal International Prize in Science, as well as a number of national awards such as the Fresenius, the Tolman, the Richards medal, and numerous other American Chemical Society local section awards. In 2002, he received the American Chemical Society Langmuir National Award in Chemical Physics (2001). He has also been recognized by a number of honorary doctors degrees from different international universities, was a Fairchild visiting professor at CalTech, a Senior von Humboldt Fellow in West Germany, and a Miller Visiting Professor at UC Berkeley. In 2007 he was named the Distinguished Professor of the Year at Georgia Tech. In 2008, he received the USA National Medal of Science from the President of the United States, and in 2009 he received the Medal of the Republic of the first class from the President of Egypt.

Research Interest

 Nanoscience and Nanotechnology

Synthesis and Study of the Properties of Nanomaterials of Different Shape: The type of electronic motion in matter determines its properties and its applications. This motion is determined by the forces acting on the electrons, which in turn, determine the space in which they are allowed to move. One expects that if we reduce the size of material to below its naturally allowed characteristic length scale, new properties should be observed which change with the size or shape of the material. These new properties are different from those of the macroscopic material, as well as of its building blocks (atoms or molecules). This phenomenon occurs on the nanometer length scale. Our group makes and studies the properties of these nanometer materials. The properties examined are:

  • Ultrafast electron-hole dynamics in semiconductor nanoparticles and composites
  • Shape-controlled synthesis and stability of metallic nanoparticles
  • Enhanced light absorption and scattering processes, electronic relaxation, and photothermal properties of gold and silver nanocrystals of different shapes



Honors & Awards

  • Doctor of Humane Letters, Am. U. of Beirut, 2011
  • Ahmed Zewail Prize in Molecular Sciences, 2009
  • Glenn T. Seaborg Medal, 2009
  • Honorary Fellow of the Chinese Chemical Society, 2009
  • Medal of the Egyptian Republic, First Class, 2009
  • Inaugural Fellow of the American Chemical Society, 2009
  • Honorary Doctors degrees: U. of Alexandria Medical School, U. of Mansoura Medical School, Beni Suef U., 2008
  • "The Class of 1943 Distinguished Professor" Award, 2007
  • US National Medal of Science in Chemistry, 2007
  • Langmuir Award of the American Chemical Society, 2002
  • Elected Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Sciences, 2000
  • Regents’ Professor, 2000
  • Elected Fellow, American Physical Society, 2000
  • Doctor Honoris Causa, Hebrew University, 1993
  • King Faisal International Prize in the Sciences (Chemistry), 1990
  • Elected Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 1986
  • Elected Member of the Third World Academy of Sciences, 1984
  • Alexander von Humboldt Senior Fellow, 1982, 1982
  • Elected Member of the US National Academy of Sciences, 1980
  • Alfred P. Sloan Fellow, 1965-71
  • Fresenius National Award in Pure and Applied Chemistry, 1967
  • Guggenheim Foundation Fellow, 1967-68


“Plasmonic Imaging of Human Oral Cancer Cell Comminties during Programmed Cell Death by Nuclear-Targeting Silver Nanoparticles,” Austin, L.A.; Bin, K.; Chun-Wan, Y.; El-Sayed, M.A., Journal of the American Chemical Society, 133(44), 17594-17597 (2011).

“Tailoring Plasmonic and Electrostatic Field Effects to Maximize Solar Energy Conversion by Bacteriorhodopsin, the Other Natural Photosynthetic System,” Yen, C.W.; Hayden, S.C.; Dreaden, E.C.; Szymanski, P.; El-Sayed, M.A., Nano Letters, 11(9), 3821-3826 (2011).

“Bacteriorhodopsin/TiO(2) Nanotube Arrays Hybrid System for Enhanced Photoelectrochemical Water Splitting,” Allam, N.K.; Yen, C.W.; Near, R.D.; El-Sayed, M.A., Energy & Environmental Science, 4(8), 2909-2914 (2011).

‘Time Dependence and Signs of the Shift of the Surface Plasmon Resonance Frequency in Nanocages Elucidate the Nanocatalysis Mechanism in Hollow Nanoparticles,” Mahmoud, M.A.; El-Sayed, M.A., Nano Letters, 11(3), 946-953 (2011).
“Beating Cancer to Death in Multiple Ways Using Nanogold. Dreaden,” E. C.; Mackey, M.A.; Huang, X.; Kang, B.; El-Sayed, M.A., Chemical Society Reviews, 40 (7), 3391 –3404 (2011).

“Experimental Evidence for The Nanocage Effect In Catalysis With Hollow Nanoparticles,” Mahmoud, M. A.; Saira, F.; El-Sayed, M. A., Nano Letters, 10(9), 3764-3769 (2010).

“Experimental Evidence for The Nanocage Effect In Catalysis With Hollow Nanoparticles,” Mahmoud, M. A.; Saira, F.; El-Sayed, M. A., Nano Letters, 10(9), 3764-3769 (2010).

“Enhanced Photoassisted Water Electrolysis using Vertically Oriented Anodically Fabricated Ti-Nb-Zr-O Mixed Oxide Nanotube Arrays,” Allam, N.K.; Alamgir, F.; El-Sayed, M.A., ACS Nano, 4(10), 5819-5826 (2010).

“Plasmonic coupling in noble metal nanostructures,” Jain, P.K.; El-Sayed, M.A., Chemical Physics Letters, 487(4-6), 153-164 (2010).

“Nuclear Targeting of Gold Nanoparticles in Cancer Cells Induces DNA Damage, Causing Cytokinesis Arrest and Apoptosis,” Kang, B.; Mackey, M.A.; El-Sayed, M.A., Journal of the American Chemical Society, 132(5), 1517–1519 (2010).

“Tamoxifen-PEG-Thiol Gold Nanoparticle Conjugates: Enhanced Potency and Selective Delivery for Breast Cancer Treatment,” Dreaden ,E. C.; Mwakwari, S. C.; Sodji, Q. H.; Oyelere, A. K.; El-Sayed, M. A., Bioconjugate Chemistry, 20, 2247–2253 (2009).

 “Exciton Lifetime Tuning by Changing the Plasmon Field Orientation with Respect to the Exciton Transition Moment Direction: CdTe-Au Core-Shell Nanorods,” Neretina, S.; Qian, W.; Dreaden, E. C.; El-Sayed, M. A.; Hughes, R. A.; Preston, J. S.; Mascher, P., Nano Letters, 9, (3), 1242-1248 (2009).

 “Photocatalysis in Gold Nanocage Nanoreactors,” Yen, C. W.; Mahmoud, M. A.; El-Sayed, M. A., Journal of Physical Chemistry A, 113(16), 4340-4345 (2009).

"Gold nanorod assisted near-infrared plasmonic photothermal therapy (PPTT) of squamous cell carcinoma in mice," Erin B. Dickerson, Erik C. Dreaden, Xiaohua Huang, Ivan H. El-Sayed, Hunghao Chu, Sujatha Pushpanketh, John F. McDonald, Mostafa A. El-Sayed, Cancer Letters 269, 57-66 (2008).

"A new catalytically active colloidal platinum nanocatalyst: The multiarmed nanostar single crystal," Mahmoud A. Mahmoud, Christopher Tabor, Mostafa A. El-Sayed, Ding, Y. & Zhong Lin Wang, Journal of the American Chemical Society 130, 590 (2008).

"Plasmon Field Effects on the Nonradiative Relaxation of Hot Electrons in an Electronically Quantized System: CdTe-Au Core-Shell Nanowires," Svetlana Neretina, Wei Qian, Erik C. Dreaden, Robert A. Hughes, John S. Preston, Peter Mascher, Mostafa A. El-Sayed, Nano Letters 8(8), 2410-2418 (2008).

 “Noble Metals on the Nanoscale: Optical and Photothermal Properties and Some Applications in Imaging, Sensing, Biology, and Medicine,” Prashant K. Jain, Xiaohua Huang, Ivan H. El-Sayed, Mostafa A. El-Sayed, Accounts of Chemical Research, 41 (12), 1578–1586 (2008).

“Gold nanoparticles and nanorods in medicine: From cancer diagnostics to photothermal therapy,” Xiaohua Huang, Prashant K. Jain, Ivan H. El-Sayed, Mostafa A. El-Sayed, Invited Review, Nanomedicine, 2(5), 681-693, (2007).

"On the universal scaling behavior of the distance decay of plasmon coupling in metal nanoparticle pairs: A plasmon ruler equation," Prashant K. Jain, Wenyu Huang, and Mostafa A. El-Sayed, Nano Letters, 7(7), 2080-2088, (2007).

"Calculated absorption and scattering properties of gold nanoparticles of different size, shape, and composition: applications in biological imaging and biomedicine," Jain, Prashant K.; Lee, Kyeong Seok; El-Sayed, Ivan H.; El-Sayed, Mostafa A., J. Phys. Chem. B, 110(14), 7238-7248, (2006).

"Why gold nanoparticles are more precious than pretty gold: noble metal surface plasmon resonance and its enhancement of the radiative and nonradiative properties of nanocrystals of different shapes," Susie Eustis and Mostafa A. El-Sayed; Chem. Society Review, 35(3), 209-217, (2006).

"Cancer cell imaging and photothermal therapy in near-infrared region by using gold nanorods," Xiaohua Huang; Ivan H. El-Sayed; Wei Qian and Mostafa A. El-Sayed, J. Am. Chem. Soc.., 128, 2115-2120, (2006).

"Observation of optical gain in solutions of CdS quantum dots at room temperature in the blue region," Qusai Darugar, Wei Qian, and Mostafa A. El-Sayed, Applied Physics Letters, 88, 261108, (2006).

"Gold and silver nanoparticles in sensing and imaging: sensitivity of plasmon response to size, shape, and metal composition," Kyeong-Seok Lee and Mostafa A. El-Sayed, J. Phys. Chem. B, 110(39), 19220-19225, (2006).

"Selective laser photo-thermal therapy of epithelial carcinoma using anti-egfr antibody conjugated gold nanoparticles," El-Sayed, Ivan; Huang, Xiaohua; El-Sayed, Mostafa A., , Cancer Letters, 239(1), 129-135 ( 2005).

"Surface plasmon resonance scattering and absorptin of anti-EGFR antibody conjugated gold nanoparticles in cancer diagnostics: applications in oral cancer," I.H. El-Sayed; X.H Huang; M.A. El-Sayed, Nano Letts, 5 (5), 829-834, (2005).

"The chemistry and properties of nanocrystals of different shapes," Burda, C.; Chen, X.; Narayanan, R.; El-Sayed, M.A., Chem. Rev. 105, (4), 1025-1102, (2005). Invited Review Article.

"Some interesting properties of metals confined in time and nanometer space of different shapes," Mostafa A. El-Sayed, Acc. Chem. Research, 34, (4), 257-264, (2001).

"Shape and size dependence of radiative, non-radiative and photothermal properties of gold nanocrystals," Stephan Link and Mostafa A. El-Sayed, Int. Reviews in Physical Chemistry, 19 (3), 409-453, (2000).

"The 'lightning' gold nanorods: fluorescence enhancement of over a million compared to the gold metal," Mona B. Mohamed, Victor Volkov, Stephan Link, Mostafa A. El-Sayed, Chem. Phys. Lett., 317, 517-523, (2000).