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A solid white polymer that is resistant to adhesion, heat, oxidation, light and chemicals. Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) was accidentally discovered in 1938 by Roy Plunkett at DuPont during an attempt to synthesize tetrafluoroethylene. The new polymer was a soft waxy material that could be molded into shapes then sintered with heat to form a hard solid. It was marketed as Teflon® by DuPont in 1943. PTFE is a soft, opaque material that is unaffected by acids, alkalis, and organic solvents. It is widely used for containers in chemical plants, for rockets, bearings, gaskets, and for non-stick frying pan coatings. PTFE is used for stain-resistant, water-repellent coatings on textiles. It can also be prepared as ribbonlike fibers, which are woven, knitted, felted or braided. Additionally, GORE-TEX® is prepared from a microporous Teflon® film laminated on a polyester fabric.

Synonyms and Related Terms

PTFE; TFE; poly(tetrafluoroethylene); politetrafluoroetileno (Esp.); politetrafluoroetilene (It.); politetrafluoretileno (Port.); poly(ethylene tetrafluoride); tetrafluoroethene polymer

Examples: Teflon® [DuPont]; Gore-Tex® [W.R.Gore Associates]; Fluon [ICI, Britain]; Halon [AlliedSignal]; M362;


  • Does not burn in flame but evaporates above 215C and evolves HF.
  • Fisher Scientific: MSDS

Physical and Chemical Properties

  • Insoluble in water. Resistant to acids, alkalis and organic solvents.
  • Tenacity = 0.5-1.4 g/denier;
  • Elongation = 15-32 %;
  • Moisture regain = 0%
Composition [-C2F4-]n
CAS 9002-84-0
Melting Point 300 C (dec)
Density 2.1-2.3 g/ml


General Characteristics of Polymers

Physical Properties for Selected Thermoplastic Resins

Resources and Citations

  • Richard S. Lewis, Hawley's Condensed Chemical Dictionary, Van Nostrand Reinhold, New York, 10th ed., 1993
  • History of Plastics: www.nswpmith.com.au/historyofplastics.html
  • Hoechst Celanese Corporation, Dictionary of Fiber & Textile Technology (older version called Man-made Fiber and Textile Dictionary, 1965), Hoechst Celanese Corporation, Charlotte NC, 1990
  • J.Gordon Cook, Handbook of Textile Fibres:II Man-made Fibres, 5th edition, Merrow Publishing Co., Durham, England, 1984. p.509.
  • Identification of Textile Materials, The Textile Institute, Manchester, England, 1985
  • M.Kaufman, The First Century of Plastics, The Plastics and Rubber Institute, London, 1963
  • Theodore J. Reinhart, 'Glossary of Terms', Engineered Plastics, ASM International, 1988