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Teflon Discoverer Roy Plunkett, Dead at 83

May 13, 1994

WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) _ Roy J. Plunkett, a DuPont Co. chemist credited with discovering Teflon, has died at the age of 83, the company said Friday.

Plunkett died Thursday at his home in Corpus Christi, Texas after a short illness, the company said Friday.

Teflon, the trade name for the polytetrafluoroethylene resin, is most commonly known as a non-stick coating for frying pans and other cooking surfaces, but also has a wide variety of industrial applications.

Plunkett, a native of New Carlisle, Ohio, was working as a research chemist at DuPont’s Jackson Laboratory in Deepwater, N.J., in 1938 when he discovered the material.

He was investigating a failed experiment involving refrigeration gases when he discovered a white, waxy substance that proved to be inert to virtually all chemicals and the most slippery material known, DuPont said.

″Roy’s contribution to science, industry and society is virtually impossible to calculate or attach a value to,″ said James M. Keegan, an executive in DuPont’s fluoropolymers division.

In addition to Teflon, Plunkett invented or co-invented a dozen products patented by DuPont in the U.S., and is responsible for many foreign patent filings on DuPont materials. Plunkett worked at DuPont for 39 years, retiring in 1975.

Plunkett was a member of the Plastics Hall of Fame, the National Inventors’ Hall of Fame and the the Engineering and Science Hall of Fame.

Plunkett received an undergraduate degree in chemistry from Manchester College, North Manchester, Ind. and a master’s degree and a doctorate from Ohio State University.

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