Evolution of Tech: Roger Bacon’s high-performance carbon fibers find widespread use for thermal, mechanical properties
October 25th, will mark the 56th anniversary of the issue of the seminal patent for high-performance carbon fibers, which were invented by Roger Bacon, a 2016 inductee into the National Inventors Hall of Fame. This American physicist’s chance discovery of ultra-thin, incredibly strong fibers composed primarily of carbon led to great business success for Bacon’s employer, Union Carbide, as well as multiple recognitions of Bacon’s own work which kickstarted development into carbon materials which continue even today… The patent for which Bacon is inducted into the National Inventor’s Hall of Fame is U.S. Patent No. 2957756, entitled Filamentary Graphite and Method for Producing the Same. Issued October 25th, 1960, it claimed a method for producing filamentary graphite by confining a graphite rod surmounting a carbon block within a closed pressure vessel which has a means for introducing inert gases, striking a direct current arc between the rod and the block while maintaining a pressure level within the vessel between 1,150 pounds per square inch (psi) and 1,400 psi to effect vaporization of the rod onto the block to form a boule, cooling the boule, fracturing the boule and removing the graphite filaments contained within the boule.