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1930-1939

1930 U.S. Congress formally establishes the National Institute of Health, precursor to the National Institutes of Health.

1930 Franz Fischer and Hans Tropsch patent their process for producing synthetic fuels from hydrogen and carbon monoxide.


◀ 1930s Arnold O. Beckman commercializes the pH meter.

1930s Sulfonamides (sulfa drugs) are introduced. They are the first antibiotics commercialized.

1931 Harold C. Urey discovers deuterium.

1932 James Chadwick discovers the neutron.

1932 Albert Szent-Györgyi and Charles G. King independently isolate vitamin C.


1935 DuPont chemists Wallace H. Carothers (pictured) and Gerard Berchet invent nylon.

1935 ICI patents the process for making polyethylene, one of today’s most common plastics.

1935 DuPont adopts the advertising slogan “Better Things For Better Living … Through Chemistry.”

1937 Eugene J. Houdry develops industrial-scale catalytic petroleum cracking, setting the stage for the modern oil refinery.

1937 Technetium is discovered. It’s the first element to be artificially produced.


1938 Mass poisonings from an improperly prepared sulfa drug prompt passage of the Food, Drug & Cosmetic Act, which requires companies to perform safety tests.

1938 DuPont’s Roy J. Plunkett accidentally discovers Teflon after having trouble with a gas cylinder.

◀  1939 Linus C. Pauling publishes “The Nature of the Chemical Bond.” The text becomes an instant classic.

1939 Paul Hermann Müller discovers that dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT) is an effective insecticide.


Download C&EN 90th Anniversary Poster Timeline (pdf)

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