Carothers, Wallace Hume

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b. 27 April 1896 Burlington, Iowa, USA
d. 29 April 1937 Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
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American chemist, inventor of nylon.
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After graduating in chemistry, Carothers embarked on academic research at several universities, finally at Harvard University. His earliest published papers, from 1923, heralded the brilliance and originality of his later work. In 1928, Du Pont de Nemours persuaded him to forsake the academic world to lead their new organic-chemistry group in a programme of fundamental research at their central laboratories at Wilmington, Delaware. The next nine years were extraordinarily productive, yielding important contributions to theoretical organic chemistry and the foundation of two branches of chemical industry, namely the production of synthetic rubber and of wholly synthetic fibres.
Carothers began work on high molecular weight substances yielding fibres and introduced polymerization by condensation: polymerization by addition was already known. He developed a clear understanding of the relation between the repeating structural units in a large molecule and its physical chemical properties. In 1931, Carothers found that chloroprene could be polymerized much faster than isoprene, the monomer in natural rubber. This process yielded polychloroprene or neoprene, a synthetic rubber with improved properties. Manufacture began the following year, and the material has continued to be used for speciality rubbers.
There followed many publications announcing new condensations polymers. On 2 January 1935, he obtained a patent for the formation of new polyamides, including one from adipic acid and hexamethylenediamene. After four years of development work, which cost Du Pont some $27 million, this new polyamide, or nylon, reached the stage of commercial production, beginning on 23 October 1938. Nylon stockings appeared the following year and 64 million were sold during the first twelve months. However, Carothers saw none of this spectacular success: he had died by his own hand in 1937, after a long history of gradually intensifying depression.
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Principal Honours and Distinctions
Elected to the National Academy of Science 1936 (he was the first industrial organic chemist to be so honoured).
Bibliography
H.M.Whitby and G.S.Whitby, 1940, Collected Papers of Wallace H.Carothers on Polymerisation, New York.
Further Reading
R.Adams, 1939, memoir, Biographical Memoirs of the National Academy of Sciences 20:293–309 (includes a complete list of Carothers's sixty-two scientific papers and most of his sixty-nine US patents).
LRD

Biographical history of technology. - Taylor & Francis e-Librar. . 2005.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Carothers,Wallace Hume — Ca·roth·ers (kə rŭthʹərz), Wallace Hume. 1896 1937. American chemist who developed the synthetic material nylon, which was patented in 1937. * * * …   Universalium

  • Carothers, Wallace Hume — ▪ American chemist born April 27, 1896, Burlington, Iowa, U.S. died April 29, 1937, Philadelphia, Pa.  American chemist who developed nylon, the first synthetic polymer fibre to be produced commercially (in 1938) and one that laid the foundation… …   Universalium

  • Carothers , Wallace Hume — (1896–1937) American industrial chemist Carothers, the son of a teacher, was born in Burlington, Iowa, and gained a BS degree from Tarkio College, Missouri (1920), after working his way through college. He gained his PhD in 1924 from the… …   Scientists

  • Carothers, Wallace (Hume) —  (1896–1937) American scientist and inventor of nylon …   Bryson’s dictionary for writers and editors

  • Wallace Hume Carothers — Wallace Carothers. Wallace Hume Carothers (* 27. April 1896 in Burlington, Iowa; † 29. April 1937 in Wilmington) war ein US amerikanischer Chemiker, der das Nylon erfand und nach dem die Carothers Gleichung benannt ist. Er war das älteste von… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Wallace Hume Carothers — Wallace Hume Carothers. Wallace Hume Carothers (27 avril 1896 29 avril 1937) est un chimiste américain de la compagnie DuPont. En 1935, il synthétise le nylon. Après avoir obtenu son doctorat, il enseigne à plusieurs… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Wallace Hume Carothers — noun United States chemist who developed nylon (1896 1937) • Syn: ↑Carothers, ↑Wallace Carothers • Instance Hypernyms: ↑chemist …   Useful english dictionary

  • Wallace H. Carothers — Wallace Hume Carothers (* 27. April 1896 in Burlington, Iowa; † 29. April 1937 in Wilmington) war ein US amerikanischer Chemiker, der das Nylon erfand und nach dem die Carothers Gleichung benannt ist. Er war das älteste von vier Kindern eines… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Wallace Carothers — Wallace Hume Carothers Wallace Hume Carothers (27 avril 1896 29 avril 1937) était un chimiste américain à la compagnie DuPont. En 1935, il synthétise le nylon. Après avoir obtenu son doctorat, il enseigne à plusieurs universités avant d être… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Carothers — noun United States chemist who developed nylon (1896 1937) • Syn: ↑Wallace Carothers, ↑Wallace Hume Carothers • Instance Hypernyms: ↑chemist …   Useful english dictionary

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