Chemicals: Painful Adjustment at Du Pont

In uncommon measure, E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co. owes its long reign as the world's largest chemical company to its prowess at scientific research. With endless inventiveness and one of the largest corporate research budgets ($110 million a year), Du Pont's 4,000 scientists annually discover some 1,000 completely new compounds of matter, nurse these and other laboratory-born ideas into commercial usefulness at the remarkable rate of one a month.

Whole new technologies such as nylon, the first all-synthetic fiber, and neoprene, the first U.S. commercial synthetic rubber, have sprung...

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