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Stephanie L. Kwolek, Inventor of Kevlar, Is Dead at 90
Woman who invented kevlar, dead at 90

Quote:The research that led to Kevlar began in the early 1960s, when women were a rarity in industrial chemistry. Ms. Kwolek was part of a team at DuPont’s research laboratory in Wilmington that was trying to develop a lightweight fiber that would be strong enough to replace the steel used in radial tires.

The work involved manipulating strings of carbon-based molecules to produce larger molecules known as polymers. At one point, in 1964, Ms. Kwolek was struggling to convert a solid polymer into liquid form and finding the results to be a murky disappointment. Instead of the clear, syrupy mixture she expected, the liquid was thin and opaque.

Ms. Kwolek’s peers suggested that the polymer she had concocted would probably not work as a fiber. But Ms. Kwolek persisted. She persuaded another scientist to “spin” the liquid in the laboratory spinneret, a machine used to remove liquid solvent and leave behind fibers.

In “a case of serendipity,” as she put it, she discovered that polyamide molecules in the solution, a form of liquid crystal, lined up in parallel and that when the liquid was “cold spun,” it produced a fiber of unusual stiffness.

When the fibers were tested in 1965, they were found to be five times as strong as steel of equal weight and resistant to fire. Herbert Blades, Joseph Rivers and others at DuPont soon recognized the market potential for a tough, lightweight fabric and began to consider potential uses for the innovation. They have been credited with making it a mass market product.
She saved many lives. RIP old girl.

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A couple years ago I watched an interview someone did with her. Impressive woman. Many people owe their lives to her.
das, proud to be a member of since Sep 2012.

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