In 1938, polytetrafluoroethylene (DuPont brand name Teflon) was discovered by accident by a recently hired DuPont Ph.D., Roy J. Plunkett. While working with tetrafluoroethylene gas, he noticed that a previously-pressurized cylinder had no pressure remaining. In dissecting the cylinder, he found a mass of white solid in a quantity similar to that of the tetrafluoroethylene gas. It was determined that this material was a new-to-the-world polymer. Tests showed the substance was resistant to corrosion from most substances and had better high temperature stability than any other plastic. By early 1941, a crash program was making commercial quantities.
Fluoropolymers share the properties of fluorocarbons in that they are not as susceptible to the van der Waals force as hydrocarbons. This contributes to their non-stick and friction reducing properties. Also, they are stable due to the stability multiple carbon–fluorine bonds add to a chemical compound. Fluoropolymers may be mechanically characterized as thermosets or thermoplastics. Fluoropolymers can be homopolymers or copolymers.
Examples of monomers used to prepare fluoropolymers
The global demand on fluoropolymers was estimated at approximately 7.25 billion USD in 2011. Driven by new developments of products, applications, and processes, as well as strong demands in new markets, the demand is expected to grow by 5.8% in the following years.