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Teflon! An Accidental Discovery

You probably encounter teflon everyday and don't even realize it. I like the history of the discovery of teflon -- because it was on accident!

You never know what can happen when you experiment & try new things.

Teflon is found on non-stick pans, "insulation of wiring in aerospace and computer applications" and coatings of medical devices (like catheters and ortho products) because it has low chance of infection."

More of teflon and the history of teflon below.

I made this trippy photocollage of the chemical structure of teflon using the gogobox app and the photos are from Wikipedia (released to the public domain)

Give it a try! We are good at this!


The chemical name for teflon is:

Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) is a synthetic fluoropolymer of tetrafluoroethylene that has numerous applications. The well-known brand name of PTFE-based formulas is Teflon by Chemours.[2] Chemours was a spin-off from DuPont, which originally discovered the compound in 1938.[2] Another popular brand name of PTFE is Syncolon by Synco Chemical Corporation.[3]

PTFE is a fluorocarbon solid, as it is a high molecular weight compound consisting wholly of carbon and fluorine. PTFE is hydrophobic: neither water nor water-containing substances wet PTFE, as fluorocarbons demonstrate mitigated London dispersion forces due to the high electronegativity of fluorine. PTFE has one of the lowest coefficients of friction of any solid.

PTFE is used as a non-stick coating for pans and other cookware. It is nonreactive, partly because of the strength of carbon–fluorine bonds, and so it is often used in containers and pipework for reactive and corrosive chemicals. Where used as a lubricant, PTFE reduces friction, wear, and energy consumption of machinery. It is commonly used as a graft material in surgical interventions. It is also frequently employed as coating on catheters; this interferes with the ability of bacteria and other infectious agents to adhere to catheters and cause hospital-acquired infections."


This work has been released into thepublic domainby its author,Benjah-bmm27. This applies worldwide.

History and Science of Teflon

It may come as a surprise to some to learn that Teflon, also known as Polytetrafluoroethylene, was in fact created by accident. Its creation in 1938 on April 6 startled chemists at the Chemours Jackson Laboratory  in New Jersey, as chemist Dr Roy J. Plunkett was working on alternative refrigerant gases.

Dr Plunkett and his assistant, Jack Rebok, stored the gas they were experimenting (tetrafluoroethylene) in small cylinders where they were then frozen and compressed. Only then when they returned to the cylinders they found that no gas emerged from the cylinder upon releasing the nozzle. As they investigated further, through splitting open the cylinder, they came to find a waxy white solidified concoction, which came to be known as Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE).

Following its miraculous discovery, Dr Plunkett then proceeded to run further tests on the curious substance, to learn more about its properties and potential. One of the main factors about Polytetrafluoroethylene that they found most interesting was that it was the most slippery substance known to mankind. This revelation made the substance extremely valuable, pushing forward many other advancements in other areas of study and enabling a whole new world of possibilities. In addition, to polytetrafluoroethylene being one of the slipperiest substances, it also had a number of other useful factors which made it curiously useful. It is non-corrosive, chemically stable and has an extremely high melting point. With such properties, the research was transferred over to the DuPont’s Central Research Department where it was then allocated to a chemist who specialised in polymer research.

Since then, Dr Roy Plunkett has been identified scientifically and academically and takes a place among other well-known inventors, having been inducted into the Plastics Hall of Fame and The National Inventor’s Hall of Fame.


Here is an ad from when teflon came out on non-stick pans. :)

By trozzolo - Own work, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=17229995

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