The story of Teflon® began April 6, 1938, at DuPont's Jackson Laboratory in New Jersey. DuPont chemist, Dr. Roy J. Plunkett, was working with gases related to Freon® refrigerants, another DuPont product. Upon checking a frozen, compressed sample of tetrafluoroethylene, he and his associates discovered that the sample had polymerized spontaneously into a white, waxy solid to form polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE).
The invention of PTFE has been described as "an example of serendipity, a flash of genius, a lucky accident ... even a mixture of all three." Whatever the exact circumstances of the discovery, one thing is certain: PTFE revolutionized the plastics industry and, in turn, gave birth to limitless applications of benefit to mankind. In 1990, U.S. President George Bush presented the National Medal of Technology to DuPont for the company's pioneering role in the development and commercialization of man-made polymers over the last half century. The citation lists Teflon® fluoropolymer resin as one of these special products.