Dr. James Franklin Hyde | Legendary Scientists | Corning

Dr. James Franklin Hyde

Dr. James Franklin Hyde

Dr. Hyde was recruited by Dr. Eugene Sullivan, in 1930, to investigate whether Corning might develop new materials related to both glass and plastics. Hyde joined Corning to match his expertise in organic chemistry with Corning’s interest in developing organosilicon compounds.

While he was working on the Pyrex 200” Disk, he conceived of a chemical process, flame hydrolysis, to make the most immaculate commercial glass product on Earth – fused silica.  This high-quality glass was used initially in specialty mirrors and telescopes and later in advanced telecommunications.

This world-changing innovation, ultra-pure glass, was used initially in radar technology during World War II and later in the Space Shuttle windows and telescope mirrors. Years later, this material and the process to produce it, chemical vapor deposition, was the starting point for the breakthrough in optical fiber and the optical communications revolution.

Around the same time, Dr. Hyde also transformed a group of compounds containing the element silicon into a wide variety of industrially important materials -- silicones -- used as sealants in engines and around windows, the rubber coating on cables and medical devices.  This work led to the formation of the Dow Corning Corporation in Midland, Mich., in 1943.

Dr. Hyde became manager of the organic chemistry research laboratory in 1938. Later, at Dow Corning, he was senior research scientist for basic organosilicon chemistry.

Dr. Hyde was granted more than 100 patents over a career focused on exploring the versatility of many forms of silicon.