Nylon is a popular low-cost high-strength silk alternative. It vastly lowered the cost of producing silk-like fabric.
Carothers started undergraduate school, at Tarkio College in Missouri, as an English major but switched to chemistry due to an influential professor. He excelled, working as an instructor during his undergraduate years. He went on to earn a masters and PhD in chemistry from the University of Illinois then became an instructor at Harvard.
DuPont funded a research lab dedicated to fundamental research, not focused on anything in particular. In 1928 joined DuPont as a senior chemist. His group did well. In 1930 they discovered Neoprene, a plastic still in use. In 1935 Carothers discovered polyamide 6-6, Nylon.
Carothers suffered from depression his whole life. He was committed to a psychiatric hospital at least twice and committed suicide in 1937, two years after creating Nylon.