Chemistry History: Teflon & Non-Stick Pans

N/A | June 22, 2017

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On this day in 1941, Teflon, the polymer commonly found in non-stick pans, was patented. Its discovery actually occurred a few years previously – here’s a quick look at the story behind it, as well as the science behind its non-stick effect.The discovery of PTFE actually happened completely by accident. When working in a team trying to develop non-toxic refrigerants in the 1930s at chemical company Dupont, Dr. Roy Plunkett was using a compound called tetrafluoroethene. Tetrafluoroethene is a gas, so it needed to be stored in small cylinder. Upon opening one of these cylinders, Plunkett found that the gas had disappeared, and in its place was a white, waxy solid. This solid was PTFE.

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