Carothers, Wallace Hume

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Carothers, Wallace Hume

(kərŭth`ərz), 1896–1937, American chemist, b. Burlington, Iowa. He received his doctorate at the Univ. of Illinois in 1924, then taught organic chemistry there and at Harvard. In 1928 he was made head of the research group in organic chemistry of the E. I. du Pont de Nemours company in Wilmington, Del. His work there on compounds of high molecular weight led to the discovery of the first synthetic rubberrubber,
any solid substance that upon vulcanization becomes elastic; the term includes natural rubber (caoutchouc) and synthetic rubber. The term elastomer is sometimes used to designate synthetic rubber only and is sometimes extended to include caoutchouc as well.
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, neoprene. While with du Pont, he also investigated the physical and chemical properties of polyamides, showing that these compounds could be melt-spun into fibers or made into transparent film. This work resulted in the discovery of nylonnylon,
synthetic thermoplastic material characterized by strength, elasticity, resistance to abrasion and chemicals, low moisture absorbency, and capacity to be permanently set by heat. After 10 years of research E. I.
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.

Carothers, Wallace Hume

 

Born Apr. 27, 1896, in Burlington, Iowa; died Apr. 29, 1937, in Wilmington, Del. American scientist in the field of polymer chemistry and technology. Member of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA (1936).

Carothers graduated from the University of Illinois in 1921, then taught organic chemistry at several American universities (1921–28). He became chief chemist at the research laboratory of E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Company in 1928. In 1931, together with J. A. Nieuwland, Carothers synthesized a chloro-prene rubber—neoprene. He produced synthetic musk for the perfume industry in 1932. Carothers formulated a method of preparing polyamide for the production of synthetic nylon fiber in 1937. He aided the transformation of polymer chemistry into an independent field of organic chemistry. Carothers also proposed a theoretical substantiation for polycondensation and introduced the concepts of monomer functionality and linear and three-dimensional polycondensation into the chemistry of polymers.

WORKS

High Polymers, vol. 1: Collected Papers of W. H. Carothers on HighPolymeric Substances. Edited by H. Mark and G. S. Whitby. NewYork, 1940.
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