Did you know Kevlar was invented by a woman? Stephanie Kwolek took a temporary position for DuPont during 1946. Her goal was to save enough money to pay for medical school. By 1964 Stephanie was still working there and doing research on how to change polymers into higher strength synthetic fibers. She was working with polymers that possessed rod-like molecules that were all lining up in a single direction.
In contrast to the molecules that had been forming in bunches,
Stephanie believed that uniform lines would render the resulting
material more powerful, although such polymers had been quite
challenging to break down into a testable solution. She finally
developed the correct solution that had rod-like molecules and at
the same time looked dissimilar to every other molecular solution
she had yet made.
The next step was to put it through a spinneret, a device that could
generate the fibers. The operator for the spinneret initially
refused to allow Kwolek to operate the machine, because her new
solution was so different than any other before it, and he believed
it would ruin the machine.
Kwolek refused to give up and made a fiber, which was as tough as
steel. The material was then named, Kevlar and since that time it
has been utilized for radial tires, brake pads, drums, skis,
helmets, camping gear as well as suspension bridge cables. The most
widely known use for Kevlar is bulletproof vests. Kevlar was a brand
name, but has become generic term. In July 1995, Kwolek was inducted
into the National Inventors Hall of Fame. Perseverance counts.