Hilaire de Chardonnet

Louis-Marie Hilaire Bernigaud de Grange, Count (Comte) de Chardonnet (1 May 1839 – 11 March 1924) was a French engineer and industrialist from Besançon, and inventor of artificial silk.

Count de Chardonnet
Comte de Chardonnay.jpg
Hilaire de Chardonnet sculpture by his daughter Anne de Chardonnet
Born(1839-05-01)1 May 1839
Besançon, France
Died11 March 1924(1924-03-11) (aged 84)
Paris, France

In the late 1870s, Chardonnet was working with Louis Pasteur on a remedy to the epidemic that was destroying French silkworms. Failure to clean up a spill in the darkroom resulted in Chardonnet's discovery of nitrocellulose as a potential replacement for real silk. Realizing the value of such a discovery, Chardonnet began to develop his new product.[1]

He called his new invention "Chardonnet silk" (soie de Chardonnet) and displayed it in the Paris Exhibition of 1889.[2] Unfortunately, Chardonnet's material was extremely flammable, and was subsequently replaced with other, more stable materials.

He was the first to patent artificial silk, although Georges Audemars had invented a variety called rayon in 1855.


  1. ^ Garrett, Alfred (1963). The Flash of Genius. Princeton, New Jersey: D. Van Nostrand Company, Inc. pp. 48–49.
  2. ^ Editors, Time-Life (1991). Inventive Genius. New York: Time-Life Books. p. 52. ISBN 0-8094-7699-1. {{cite book}}: |last= has generic name (help)