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As chemist and female inventor Patsy Sherman can attest, invention is often triggered by an unexpected event.
While she and her colleague, Sam Smith, were working in the lab one day in 1953, an assistant dropped a bottle of synthetic latex that Sherman had made. The contents splashed onto the assistant's white canvas tennis shoes. The two chemists were fascinated to find that while the substance did not change the look of the shoes, it could not be washed away by any solvents. It also repelled water, oil and other liquids.
Sherman and Smith's joint research over the next few years led to the development of Scotchgard™, a versatile fabric stain repellent and material protector. Together, Patsy Sherman and Sam Smith obtained 13 patents related to fluorochemical polymers and polymerization processes.
Sherman was elected to the Minnesota Inventors Hall of Fame in 1983, and retired as one of the most famous female inventors of the 20th century.
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