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Products from Oil

Polymers made by Accident.
PTFE - Poly(tetrefluoroethene) - Teflon.
Post-it Adhesive.

Many of the materials in common use today were made
by accident. They were made by scientists who were
working on a different project but had the foresight to
notice the formation of an unexpected product with unusual
properties. Examples of products that were made by
accident are PTFE and the adhesive for 'Post-it' labels.

What is

Poly(tetrefluoroethene) or PTFE was made by a scientist
called Roy Plunkett who was working for DuPont. He was
looking at materials which were used in fridges called CFCs.
In one of his experiments he noticed that a waxy substance
had been produced which was very slippery and did not react
with other chemicals. The material was given the name Teflon
and it was used as the coating for non-stick pans for cooking.
Today Teflon has a large number of uses including
bearings, circuit boards, medical uses and waterproof clothing.

What is Post-it Adhesive?

The adhesive for 'Post-it' labels was made by a scientist called
Spencer Silver who was working for 3M. He was doing experiments
with adhesives (glues) and he was also doing other experiments,
trying out things which would not have been expected
to produce a strong adhesive, just to see what the result was.

He produced a glue which does not form a strong bond and can
easily be removed without leaving a mark. The adhesive is made
from many tiny balls called microspheres which only allow a little
of the surface of the ball to stick to things. It was
several years later that someone found a use for the adhesive
Post-it labels have a coating of sticky microspheres along one side.

Post-it Label showing Microspheres

The labels are used in offices and around the home
as a way of temporarily fixing a note to a surface.
The labels can be removed and replaced many times.

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