Stephanie Kwolek, Inventor of Kevlar, Dead at 90

Stephanie Kwolek saved countless lives — and you may not even know it.

Stephanie Kwolek, 83, shown in this June 20, 2007 file photo taken in Brandywine Hundred, Del., she wears regular house gloves made with the Kevlar she invented. Her friend, Rita Vasta, told The Associated Press that Stephanie Kwolek died Wednesday in a Wilmington hospital. at age 90. (AP Photo/The News Journal, Jennifer Corbett)

Stephanie Kwolek saved countless lives — and you may not even know it.

An employee at the DuPont Company, Kwolek invented the lifesaving Kevlar, the lightweight, yet bulletproof, fiber used in body armor around the world.

According to KTAR:

Kwolek made the breakthrough while working on specialty fibers at a DuPont laboratory in Wilmington. At the time, DuPont was looking for strong, lightweight fibers that could replace steel in automobile tires and improve fuel economy.

“I knew that I had made a discovery,” Kwolek said in an interview several years ago that was included in the Chemical Heritage Foundation’s “Women in Chemistry” series. “I didn’t shout ‘Eureka,’ but I was very excited, as was the whole laboratory excited, and management was excited because we were looking for something new, something different, and this was it.”

Kwolek retired in 1986 and was the only female DuPont employee to receive the Lavoisier Medal for outstanding technical achievement.

She passed away Wednesday, June 18, at age 90.


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