Developed the Kevlar Fiber, DuPont
Inducted in 1996
Stephanie L. Kwolek was a Polish-American chemist at the DuPont company. She invented the synthetic fiber that would go on to compose Kevlar, protecting countless lives through her scientific discovery.
In 1965, Stephanie developed the technology that became the foundation of the Kevlar fiber while working in the Textile Fibers Pioneering Research Laboratory at DuPont’s Experimental Station. Additionally, Stephanie’s name appears on 16 patents, and she is the sole patent-holder on seven. She has authored or co-authored 28 scientific publications and has presented her work at national and international conferences.
Stephanie’s research led to the discovery of Kevlar, a fiber five times stronger than steel, yet 43% lower in density than fiberglass. Kevlar is resistant to wear, corrosion, fatigue, and flame and is nonconductive. Kevlar in bulletproof vests has saved the lives of thousands of police officers. Kevlar has also replaced asbestos in friction products like brakes and is used in fire-blocking protective clothing, ropes, and cables for use on offshore, oil-drilling platforms and in aircraft and space vehicle construction.
Stephanie has been celebrated with honors and awards including the Howard N. Potts Medal from the Franklin Institute of Philadelphia for the discovery of liquid crystalline solutions of synthetic polyamides and resulting fibers; the Chemical Pioneer Award from the American Institute of Chemists; the Creative Invention Award from the American Chemical Society; and the DuPont Honoree at the Bicentennial Celebration of the United States Patent and Copyright Laws.
The Society for the Advancement of Material and Process Engineering awarded her the George Lubin Memorial Award for meritorious achievement in the advancement of material and process engineering, and the Patent and Trademark office awarded her the American Innovator Award. Stephanie was also inducted into the Dayton, Ohio Engineering and Science Hall of Fame, the University of Akron's Polymer Processing Hall of Fame, and the National Inventors Hall of Fame.
Stephanie L. Kwolek was a member of the American Chemical Society, the American Institute of Chemists, Sigma Xi, Phi Kappa Phi, and the Franklin Institute of Philadelphia. She was retired and working part-time as a consultant at E.I. DuPont de Nemours & Co., Inc. when she passed away in 2014.