Synthetic Polymers

Understanding how to make small molecules polymerize into long-chain hydrocarbons to form plastics and other synthetics was closely related to the efforts of chemists and engineers to break down and utilize fragments of the long-chain hydrocarbons in petroleum. Scientists active in the area of petrochemicals have shared their knowledge of catalysts and increased the variety and quantity of chemicals usable in polymerization processes that create all sorts of synthetic materials. Such materials—including nylon, Kevlar, and Teflon—are now an integral part of the modern world.

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The Center for Oral History captures and preserves the stories of notable figures in chemistry and related fields, with over 425 oral histories that deal with various aspects of science, of scientists, and of scientific practices. For more information please visit CHF’s Oral History Program or e-mail oralhistory@

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