Louis Marie Hilaire Bernigaud, French chemist, early 20th century.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
In 1878, Bernigaud, Comte de Chardonnet (1839-1924), began to develop an artificial fibre. Obtaining a patent in 1884, he worked for several years on the problem of reducing the flammability of the new substance. At the Paris Exposition of 1889, he showed rayon products to the public for the first time and, in 1891, began to produce the world's first commercially made synthetic fibre, sometimes called Chardonnet silk to distinguish it from other forms of rayon.