Neoprene was invented by DuPont scientists on 17th April 1930 after Dr. Elmer K. Bolton of DuPont laboratories attended a lecture by Fr. Julius Arthur Nieuwland, a professor of chemistry at the University of Notre Dame. Fr. Nieuwland's research was focused on acetylene chemistry and during the course of his work he produced divinyl acetylene, a jelly which firms into an elastic compound similar to rubber when passed over sulfur dichloride. After DuPont purchased the patent rights from the university, Wallace Carothers of DuPont took over commercial development of Nieuwland's discovery in collaboration with Nieuwland himself. DuPont focused on monovinyl acetylene and reacted the substance with hydrogen chloride gas, manufacturing chloroprene.
Neoprene (originally called duprene) was the first mass-produced synthetic rubber compound.
Its chemical inertness makes it well suited for industrial applications such as gaskets, hoses, and corrosion-resistant coatings. It can be used as a base for adhesives, noise isolation in power transformer installations, and as padding in external metal cases to protect the contents while allowing a snug fit. Neoprene weather stripping is commonly used in fire doors as its fire resistance is higher than exclusively hydrocarbon based rubbers, also resulting in its appearance in combat related attire such as gloves and face masks. Neoprene is also used as a contrast in some jewelry designs. Its springy consistency makes it notoriously difficult to fold when in sheet form. Neoprene homopolymer of chlorobutadiene and is unusual in that it is moderately resistant to both petroleum oils and weather (ozone, UV, oxygen). This qualifies neoprene uniquely for certain sealing applications where many other materials would not be satisfactory. Neoprene is classified as a general purpose elastomer which has relatively low compression set, good resilience and abrasion, and is flex cracking resistant. Neoprene has excellent adhesion qualities to metals for rubber to metal bonding applications. It is used extensively for sealing refrigeration fluids due to its excellence resistance to Freon® and ammonia