In a polymer investigation laboratory at DuPont, Kwolek discovered the extremely soluble fiber known as Kevlar

In a polymer investigation laboratory at DuPont, Kwolek discovered the extremely soluble fiber known as Kevlar

In 1965 Stephanie Kwolek developed the firstly children of artificial material of exemplary energy and stiffness. The known user is actually Kevlar, a substance found in safety vests along with boats, planes, ropes, cables, and far more—in complete about 200 solutions.

Women in Chemistry: Stephanie Kwolek

Kwolek (1923–2014) was born in brand-new Kensington, Pennsylvania. The woman grandfather, exactly who passed away whenever she was several years older, got a naturalist by avocation. She invested much time with your examining the forest and industries near the lady room and filling up scrapbooks with leaves, wildflowers, seed, grasses, and pertinent explanations. From the girl mama, initially a homemaker right after which by necessity a lifetime career lady, Kwolek inherited a love of fabric and stitching. At some point she believed she might become a fashion designer, but the woman mommy informed this lady she’d probably starve in that business because she was actually these types of a perfectionist. After Kwolek turned contemplating training and then in biochemistry and treatments.

University and DuPont


Stephanie Kwolek at a polarizing microscope.

DuPont; gift of Stephanie Kwolek

When she graduated from the women’s university (Margaret Morrison Carnegie university) of Carnegie Mellon University, she sent applications for a position as a chemist with all the DuPont providers, among other places. This lady appointment with W. Hale Charch, that has formulated the process to produce cellophane water resistant and who had been at that time a study director, ended up being a memorable one. After Charch indicated that he would allow her to understand in approximately two weeks whether she’d be provided a position, Kwolek asked your if the guy might come to a decision quicker since she was required to respond briefly to another provide. Charch labeled as inside the secretary plus in Kwolek’s position dictated a deal letter. In later years she suspected that her assertiveness inspired his decision within her benefit. At DuPont the polymer studies she labored on was actually so interesting and challenging that she decided to decrease this lady methods for health class and also make biochemistry a lifetime career.

She is engaged in several works, such as a look for latest polymers plus a fresh condensation procedure that happens at decreased temperatures—about 0° to 40°C. The melt condensation polymerization techniques included in organizing nylon, for instance, was actually rather done at significantly more than 200°C. The lower-temperature polycondensation processes, which use most fast-reacting intermediates, make it possible to organize polymers that simply cannot become melted and only begin to decompose at conditions above 400°C.

Looking for Super Fibers


Kwolek was in their 40s when she ended up being questioned by DuPont to scout for the following generation of material capable of executing in serious problems. This project involved preparing intermediates, synthesizing aromatic polyamides of high molecular lbs, dissolving the polyamides in solvents, and spinning these expertise into fibers. She all of a sudden unearthed that under certain circumstances large numbers of the molecules of the rodlike polyamides come to be arranged in parallel, which, form liquid crystalline options, and this these systems could be spun straight into focused materials of very high strength and tightness. These polyamide solutions were unlike any polymer assistance formerly cooked inside lab. They were abnormally liquid, turbid, and buttermilk-like to look at, and became opalescent when stirred. The person in charge of the rotating machines in the beginning refused to twist initial such answer because the guy feared the turbidity was actually due to the existence of particles that would put the microscopic holes (0.001 inch in diameter) in the spinneret. He had been finally convinced to twist, and much to his wonder, strong, firm fabric happened to be received with no difficulty. Following this breakthrough many fabric had been spun from fluid crystalline possibilities, like the yellowish Kevlar dietary fiber.


Stephanie Kwolek as well as others of this DuPont party that produced Kevlar. Leftover to ideal: Kwolek, Herbert Blades, Paul W. Morgan, and Joseph L. streams Jr.

DuPont; gifts of Stephanie Kwolek

Kevlar went on to conserve resides as a lightweight body armor for authorities as well as the army; to mention communications throughout the ocean as a protector of undersea optical-fiber cable; to suspend links with super-strong ropes; Naperville IL escort reviews and also to be used in many extra solutions from defensive clothing for professional athletes and experts to canoes, drumheads, and frying pans.


Kwolek gotten most prizes for her innovation associated with the development behind Kevlar fiber, like induction into the state creators Hall of Fame in 1994, precisely the 4th girl member of 113 at that time. In 1996 she received the state Medal of innovation, as well as in 1997 the Perkin Medal, recommended because of the community of substance business. In 2003 she is inducted in to the National Women’s Hall of reputation.

Kwolek served as a mentor for any other lady experts and participated in programs that expose young children to research. One of Kwolek’s the majority of cited papers, created with Paul W. Morgan, are “The plastic rope-trick” (record of Chemical training, April 1959, 36:182–184). It talks of how exactly to indicate condensation polymerization in a beaker at atmospheric pressure and place temperature—a demonstration today common in classrooms across the nation. In 2013 the girl story is told in a children’s book by Edwin Brit Wyckoff, the lady Just who formulated the bond That Stops the Bullets: The wizard of Stephanie Kwolek. Kwolek died in Delaware in the age of 90.

The information found in this biography got latest up-to-date on December 9, 2017.

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