Kevlar Creator Stephanie Kwolek Has Died at Age 90

/ 4 years ago

The creator of the Kevlar vest, Stephanie Kwolek, has died at the age of 90 following a brief bout with an illness, according to family friends.  She made the Kevlar breakthrough in the mid-1960s and remained with the company until she retired in 1986.

During her time as a DuPont scientist, Kwolek was able to spin fiber from a custom liquid crystalline solution, helping create Kevlar – both lighter and significantly stronger than steel.  Amazingly, she spent 15 years working in the laboratory, without receiving a promotion, before she was able to make her scientific breakthrough.

DuPont issued the following statement:

“We are all saddened at  the passing of DuPont scientist Stephanie Kwolek, a creative and determined chemist and a true pioneer for women in science.  Her synthesis of the first liquid crystal polymer and the invention of DuPont Kevlar highlighted a distinguished career.”

The breakthrough led Kwolek to be the only female DuPont employee to receive the company’s Lavosier Medal, honoring exceptional chemists or researchers.

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In addition to being used as bulletproof vests for military and law enforcement, Kevlar has found its way to the consumer market.  The material has been used for everything from bike and car tires to fiber optic cables and in construction material.  She was actively researching for a strong, lightweight fiber that could be used in the automotive industry to help reduce steel – and increase fuel efficiency.

Thank you to the New York Times for providing us with this information

Image courtesy of KTAR


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