Wallace Carothers

Chemist, Inventor

1896 – 1937

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Who was Wallace Carothers?

Wallace Hume Carothers was an American chemist, inventor and the leader of organic chemistry at DuPont, credited with the invention of nylon.

Carothers was a group leader at the DuPont Experimental Station laboratory, near Wilmington, Delaware, where most polymer research was done. Carothers was an organic chemist who, in addition to first developing nylon, also helped lay the groundwork for Neoprene. After receiving his Ph.D., he taught at several universities before he was hired by DuPont to work on fundamental research.

He married Helen Sweetman on February 21, 1936. Carothers had been troubled by periods of mental depression since his youth. Despite his success with nylon, he felt that he had not accomplished much and had run out of ideas. His unhappiness was compounded by the death of his sister, Isobel, and on the evening of April 28, 1937 he checked into a Philadelphia hotel room and committed suicide by drinking a cocktail of lemon juice laced with potassium cyanide. His daughter, Jane, was born seven months later on November 27, 1937.

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Apr 27, 1896
Also known as
  • Wallace Hume Carothers
  • United States of America
  • University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • Tarkio College, Missouri
Lived in
  • Burlington
Apr 29, 1937

on July 23, 2013


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