Chemistry Inventions We Must Thank for Giving Us the Modern World

Five chemistry discoveries that shaped the modern world

Chemistry Inventions for modern world

Chemistry is often overlooked as compared to other disciplines of science. Many of you might not agree with this point, but it is true. Most of you might not know that polythene was invented twice and that too accidentally. You must also not be aware of the fact that the way to make ammonia is the only reason for world’s population explosion from 1.6 billion to 7 billion. Well, this is enough to prove that students are still not much inclined toward this subject. They don’t even know what chemistry does, or how it has contributed over the years to give us the modern world. However, once you start learning more about this field and the facts related to it, you’ll definitely find it one of the most fascinating and interesting subjects.

As an initial step toward this, go through these five chemistry inventions that changed the world for better as listed by our chemistry assignment help team. Read to know more:

The Haber-Bosch process

You might know that the most common gas in our atmosphere is nitrogen which also plays a significant role in the biochemistry of all the living thing. But, this may not be well-known fact that animals and plants can’t extract this gas from the air as it doesn’t like reacting with much. In 1910, two German chemists named Fritz Haber and Carl Bosch combined atmospheric hydrogen and nitrogen into ammonia which is a good crop fertilizer and eventually filtered up the food chain to us. About 80% of nitrogen in human body comes from the Haber-Bosch process. That is why this chemical reaction is considered a prominent factor in the population explosion.

Your screen

In the late 1960s, the British Ministry of Defence decided that in military vehicles, flat screens should replace bulky and expensive cathode ray tubes. They were familiar with the possibility of liquid crystal displays (LCDs). However, the only issue was that they worked only at high temperatures. So later in 1970, they asked George Gray to find out a way so that LCDs can function at more pleasant temperatures. He did so while inventing 5CB molecule. Between the late 1970s and early 1980s, almost 90% of the LCD devices around the world had 5CB. The derivatives of 5CB were used for the computers, phones, and TVs.


You can find different types of polythene around you, such as water pipes, plastic bags, food packages, etc. But do you know that this stuff is the result of accidental discoveries that too twice? The first incident occurred in 1898. German chemist Hans von Pechmann noticed a wax-like substance at the bottom of lab tubes while working on something else. After further investigation, he discovered polymethylene, a very long molecular chain. Their method to make plastic was not practical, and hence no progress was witnessed for many years.

Later, in 1933 at the now defunct chemical company, ICI, a new method was discovered by chemists to make plastic. While working on high-pressure reactions, they too came across the same waxy substance. Two years later, a practical method was adopted for producing the common plastic that we all use now.


Without Penicillin, there were high chances of a thorn or a sore throat to easily turn fatal. We generally give credit to Alexander Fleming for its discovery. However, he failed to extract usable penicillin even after several efforts. After he gave up, the story of penicillin took a pause of 10-year. In 1939, Howard Florey, an Australian pharmacologist along with his team of chemists figured out a way of purifying penicillin. In 1944, Margaret Hutchinson Rousseau, a chemical engineer converted Howard’s design into the full-scale production plant.

The Pill and the Mexican yam

In the 1930s, it was discovered that hormone-based therapies could treat menstrual disorders, cancers, and contraception but this treatment and research was time-consuming. An organic chemistry professor at Pennsylvania State University, Russel Marker discovered a shortcut in the synthetic pathway which cut off the costs of producing progesterone. He came across Mexican yam while searching for plants with progesterone-like molecules. He isolated a compound from this root vegetable that could be converted into progesterone in one simple step and made the first contraceptive pill ever.

By now, you must have realized that modern world that we know today would not have been possible without chemistry. Stay tuned for more interesting write-ups about chemistry.

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