The story of Teflon™ began April 6, 1938, at the Chemours Jackson Laboratory in New Jersey. Chemours chemist, Dr. Roy J. Plunkett, was working with gases related to Freon™ refrigerants, another Chemours product. Upon checking a frozen, compressed sample of tetrafluoroethylene, he and his associates discovered that the sample had polymerized spontaneously into a white, waxy solid to form polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE).
PTFE is inert to virtually all chemicals and is considered the most slippery material in existence. These properties have made it one of the most valuable and versatile technologies ever invented, contributing to significant advancements in areas such as aerospace, communications, electronics, industrial processes and architecture. As Chemours registered trademark Teflon™, it has become a familiar household name, recognized worldwide for the superior nonstick properties associated with its use as a coating on cookware and as a soil and stain repellant for fabrics and textile products.
The Teflon™ trademark was coined by Chemours and registered in 1945; the first products were sold commercially under the trademark beginning in 1946. Applications and product innovations snowballed quickly. Today, the family of Teflon™ fluoropolymers from Chemours consists of: PTFE, the original resin; FEP, introduced in 1960; Tefzel™ ETFE in 1970; and PFA, in 1972.
The invention of PTFE has been described as "an example of serendipity, a flash of genius, a lucky accident ... even a mixture of all three." Whatever the exact circumstances of the discovery, one thing is certain: PTFE revolutionized the plastics industry and, in turn, gave birth to limitless applications of benefit to mankind. In 1990, U.S. President George Bush presented the National Medal of Technology to DuPont for the company's pioneering role in the development and commercialization of man-made polymers over the last half century. The citation lists Teflon™ fluoropolymer resin as one of these special products.
Dr. Roy Plunkett (1911-1994) has been recognized the world over by scientific, academic and civic communities. He was inducted into the Plastics Hall of Fame in 1973, and, in 1985, into the National Inventors' Hall of Fame joining such distinguished scientists and innovators as Thomas Edison, Louis Pasteur and the Wright Brothers.
The spirit of invention with Chemours fluoropolymers that was led by Dr. Plunkett is commemorated globally with the DuPont Plunkett Awards for innovation with Teflon™.