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School of Physical and Chemical Sciences

Walter Lincoln Hawkins

Walter Lincoln Hawkins was an African American scientist who is known for his contributions to polymer chemistry. He was the first African American to start working at Bell Laboratories, New Jersey.

Previously, telephone cables were easily oxidised because scientists used lightweight plastics like polyethene. Walter Lincoln Hawkins researched polymers that were more stable in the environment and discovered cheaper and safer plastic sheath cables that made telecommunications easier and more universal. Walter Lincoln Hawkins’ plastic polymer contained chemical additives composed of carbon and antioxidants.

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