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Kipping, Frederick Stanley

compounds specialist silicones

(1863–1949) British chemist: discoverer of silicones.

A student at Manchester and Munich, Kipping became a co-worker and friend of W H Perkin Jr (1860–1929), and a professor at Nottingham from 1897–1936. Early in his research career he attempted to make compounds of silicon analogous to some of the familiar organic compounds based on carbon; specifically he tried to make ketone analogues. His actual product was a polymer mixture, soon named ‘silicone’, and over a period of years he published extensively on compounds of this type. He foresaw no practical use for them as late as 1937, but wartime needs for new materials linked with his methods led to their production in the 1940s for use eventually as specialist lubricants, elastomers, hydraulic fluids, sealing compounds, insulators and surgical implants; specialist uses include the soles of moon boots for astronauts. This family of polymeric organosilicon compounds contain chains of Si–O–Si links, and are inert and water-repellent. A key step was the discovery in 1940 by E G Rochow (1909– ) of an easy route to methyl silicones.

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