Born in New Carlisle, Ohio on 26 June 1910. Died on 12 May 1994. Education: A.B., Chemistry, Manchester College (1932), M.Sc., Chemistry, Ohio State University (1933), Ph.D., Organic Chemistry, Ohio State University (1936). Employment: 1936-1975 E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Company, Inc.
From the description of Oral history interview with Roy J. Plunkett 1986 14 April and 27 May (Chemical Heritage Foundation). WorldCat record id: 710362904
Roy J. Plunkett was the discoverer of Teflon. He was born in New Carlisle, Ohio, on June 26, 1910, and died in Corpus Christi, Texas, on May 12, 1994.
Plunkett received his Ph.D. from Ohio State in 1936 and began work in 1937 at E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Company's Jackson Laboratory (Organic Chemicals Dept.), where he was assigned to a refrigerant research project. In 1938 this work led to the entirely unexpected discovery of a fluorocarbon polymer, polytetrafluoroethylene, which Du Pont later trademarked as "Teflon." The new material was unaffected by most acids and corrosive chemicals. It also remained solid and stable at temperatures much higher than any other plastic. Commercial development of Teflon was carried out on a crash basis because the polymer was needed in several areas that were important to the World War II effort, particularly in the Manhattan Project. By 1949 the Du Pont Company was producing 1 million pounds of Teflon a year. However, because of technical difficulties, production proceeded slowly until the mid-1950s. Although Teflon had numerous applications, it became best known as the nonstick coating for cookware.
Plunkett's laboratory notebook documents the discovery of Teflon at Du Pont's Jackson Laboratory in 1938. The notebook documents the experiments which led to the effective control of the rapid and explosive polymerization of tetrafluoroethylene gas into a solid polymer. The notebook describes Plunkett's tests on this new material which discovered its remarkable properties. The volume shows that the Organic Chemistry Department for whom Dr. Plunkett worked was not initially interested in Teflon because the commercial applications were not immediately obvious.
From the description of Laboratory notebook, 1937-1940. (Hagley Museum & Library). WorldCat record id: 122397674