Developed by Rohm and Haas in the 1940s, water-based acrylic emulsion technology filled a need for easy-to-use household paints for a growing suburban population in the United States following World War II. This aqueous technology required less preparation to use, was easier to clean up, had less odor, and performed better than or equal to paints made with solvents. It was also a leap forward in acrylic chemistry.
In 1900, Moses Gomberg, Professor of Chemistry at the University of Michigan, confirmed the existence of a stable, trivalent organic free radical: triphenylmethyl. In so doing, he challenged the then prevailing belief that carbon could have only four chemical bonds. Gomberg’s discovery made a major contribution to theoretical organic chemistry and fostered a field of research that continues to grow and expand. Today, organic free radicals are widely used in plastics and rubber manufacture, as well as medicine, agriculture and biochemistry.
Around 1907, Belgian-born chemist Leo Hendrik Baekeland took two ordinary chemicals, phenol and formaldehyde, mixed them in a sealed autoclave, and subjected them to heat and pressure.
The sticky, amber-colored resin he produced in his Yonkers laboratory was the first plastic ever to be created entirely from chemicals, and the first material to be made entirely by man.