Specimens of viscose artificial silk (cellulose acetate), 1883-1925.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
In 1892, two British chemists, Charles F Cros and Edward J Bevan, used cellulose to produce fibres. The cellulose was treated with caustic soda (sodium hydroxide) and then sprayed with carbon disulphide, then disolved in water. They then obtained a yellow viscose solution. Eventually it became posible to spin this solution into fibres. These were used to make a range of fabrics. The piece of material on the right is a patterned sample of Stearn artificial silk. Charles Stearn worked with Cros and Bevan on the development of viscose rayon.