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John MercerBorn 21 Feb 1791; died 30 Nov 1866 at age 75.English chemist and industrialist who invented the mercerisation process for treating cotton which is still in use today and was a pioneer in colour photography. From age 16, and throughout his life, he investigated and developed chemical textile dyes. Late in his life, in 1844, he found that when cotton is treated with caustic chemicals, it became thicker and shorter - thereby stronger and shrink-resistant. Further, the cotton was more easily dyed, needed 30% less dye, more absorbant, and could be given an attractive silk-like lustre. He called his process mercerisation and patented it in 1850. Mercerisation was applied to many other materials, such as parchment and woolen fabric, and remains an important part of the cotton finishing process today.
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