Otto Wichterle

Picture of Otto Wichterle

Date of Birth: 10/27/1913

Age: 84

Place of birth: Prostejov

Citizenship: Czech Republic

Who invented soft contact lenses?

Wichterle was born October 27, 1913 in the town of Prostejov (Prost & # 283; jov) in the east of the Czech Republic (Czech Republic). His Karel (Karel Wichterle) father was co-owner of a successful factory for the production of agricultural equipment and a small car factory, but Otto did not follow in his footsteps and chose science. He studied at the Faculty of Chemical Technology, Czech Technical University (Czech Technical University), and is still very interested in medicine.

In 1936 Otto graduated from the university and remained on the faculty. In 1939 he defended his second doctoral thesis in chemistry, but in March 1939 the Czech Republic was occupied by the Nazis, and by November all the universities in the country were closed. However Wichterle was able to settle in the Research Institute of the shoe company `Ba & # 357; a`s` in Zlin (Zl & # 237; n) and continued his studies there and supervised the technical preparation of plastics, polyamide and caprolactam. In 1941 the team Wichterle invented a way to reel polyamide filament as a result came to light Czechoslovak synthetic fiber called Silon. A year later, a few months Wichterle landed in jail by the Gestapo, but then egoosvobodili.

After World War II Wichterle returned to the university, he focused on organic chemistry and taught general and inorganic chemistry. He wrote a textbook on inorganic chemistry, the concept of which was ahead of its time, and developed by the German and Czech textbooks on organic chemistry. In 1949 Wichterle reworked and expanded his second doctorate in plastics technology and dedicated himself to the creation of a new department of plastics technology. In 1952 he became dean of the newly established Chemical Engineering Higher School (Institute of Chemical Technology in Prague).

Since that time, Wichterle devoted himself to studying the synthesis of cross-linked hydrogels, trying to find a material that is suitable for direct contact with living tissues. With his colleagues Dragoslav Lima (Drahoslav L & # 237; m) Wichterle developed hydrogel capable of absorbing up to 40% water, possessing suitable mechanical properties, and thus transparent. The researchers have patented their discovery in 1953, and soon Wichterle received his first patent for a soft contact lens. However, up to industrial production linzproshlo a lot of time. The first series of prototypes turned out not entirely successful, and require serious revision. Meanwhile, Wichterle and a number of other prominent scientists had to withdraw from the Higher School of Chemical Technology as a result of the party purges, but the International Symposium on Macromolecular Chemistry, which was held in Prague in 1957, urged the country`s leaders of the need to create a center for the study of synthetic polymers. As a result, Otto Wichterle in 1958 became Director of CSAS, Institute of Macromolecular Compounds of the Czechoslovak Academy of Sciences (Institute of Macromolecular Chemistry of the Czechoslovak Academy of Sciences).

Finally, by the end of 1961 the professor was able to make the first four contact lenses of the hydrogel. He tried the lenses on their own eyes, and they were very convenient. The device, which Wichterle made the lens was made using parts from children`s designer, owned by one of his sons. Today, the unit is kept in the museum. After a few days Wichterle patented new lenses, and lenses 5500 have been manufactured in 1962 the first four months of the year. Alas, without his knowledge CSAS sold the patent rights to the Americans, and in fact the mass production of contact lenses occur, mainly abroad, in the United States (USA).

However, Otto Wichterle is famous at home and abroad not only his invention, but also through its activities in international organizations such as the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry), assistance in the organization of the Prague chemical workshops and administrative work at University. He has published over 200 papers in chemistry and patented set of discoveries received nearly 180 patents, including a very useful from the point of view of medicine. Alas, in 1970 Wichterle again lost his job at the institute, and the authorities forbade him to assume leadership positions and limited contacts with foreign scientists. It has been almost 20 years. Finally, in 1990, after the Velvet Revolution, he was elected president of the Czechoslovak Academy of Sciences and then became honorary president of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic. In 1993, in his honor it was named an asteroid

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