Inventors Hall of Fame: Harry Coover
Inventor Harry Coover
Born March 6, 1917 – Died March 26, 2011
Patent Number 2,768,109; Patent Issued October 23, 1956
Inducted to National Inventors Hall of Fame™ in 2004
Some of the most useful products in our daily lives were developed completely by accident— and among these is Superglue.
While working as a research chemist at Eastman Kodak during world war II, Coover worked with cyanocrylates in an effort to produce an optically clear plastic to use for precision gunsights.
These chemicals proved to be unsuited to this particular task, but Coover recognized their potential applications as an adhesive.
Originally called Eastman 910, so named for its ability to dry within ten seconds, we now know this substance as Super Glue or Krazy Glue.
This is the formula for polymerization of methyl-2-cyanoacrylate:
This discovery of cyanoacrylates, a class of chemicals with powerful adhesive properties, opened the door to a wide range of industrial, consumer, and medical applications.
During the Vietnam war, field surgeons made dramatic use of cyanoacrylate by spraying it on potentially fatal wounds to stop bleeding instantly, thus allowing them to treat the wounds later in a conventional manner.
Cyanoacrylate adhesives are currently used for medical procedures such as performing sutureless surgery to rejoin veins and arteries, sealing punctures or lesions, and sealing bleeding ulcers.
Harry Coover was born in Newark, Delaware. He received his B.S. from Hobart College and his M.S. and Ph.D. from Cornell University.
Coover holds 460 patents is responsible for advances in the fields of graft polymerization, organophosphorus chemistry, and olefin polymerization.
Harry Coover’s honors include:
- Southern Chemist Man of the Year Award for his accomplishments in individual innovation and creativity.
- The Earle B. Barnes Award for Leadership in Chemical Research Management,
- The Maurice Holland Award and was a medalist for the Industrial Research Institute.
- The National Medal of Technology and Innovation in 2010.
Permission granted to copy photo and chemical formula under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License.
Posted with the permission of the National Inventors Hall of Fame™