Dr. J. Franklin Hyde joined Corning Glass Works in the fall of 1930, when the company first began looking into the development of organosilicons. At the time, Corning’s competitors were developing glass-like plastic organic polymers that had the possibility of competing with Corning’s glass. The problem was that the organic polymers didn’t have the superior thermal stability of glass. Hyde’s job was to develop organosilicon compounds that had greater thermal stability than the plastics.
In 1934, Corning set up a fiber products division, focusing on woven electrical insulating tapes and fireproof draperies. Hyde decided to point his research toward these insulators and his research soon became a combined effort with the Owens-Illinois Corporation and Corning; which led to the formation of Owens-Corning.
The formation of Dow Corning is also due in part to Hyde’s work. In 1942, the Dow Chemical Company was working on engine fillers to keep engine gears and parts lubricated and subsequently became interested in Hyde’s work on silicones. This interest eventually developed into partnership between Dow Chemical and Corning.
While at Corning, Hyde also developed the flame hydrolysis process, which would later be adapted into the vapor deposition process. This process forms high-purity fused silica glass most notably used in the 200-inch mirror blank for the Hubble space telescope and space shuttle windows. The vapor deposition process also became key to the efficient manufacturing of optical fiber, one the most significant product innovations in Corning’s history.
Dr. Franklin Hyde’s contributions in organosilicon research laid the foundation for Corning’s continued success as a world leader in specialty glass. His successes are shining examples of Corning’s dedication to innovation and its confidence in research and development.