Louis Vicat, inventing cement (1786-1861, Year of Entry: 1804)

Louis Vicat, a graduate of École Polytechnique and École des Ponts, invented artificial cement in 1817. This discovery came at a time when he was faced with the challenge of building, at low cost, the Souillac bridge in Dordogne, the first bridge constructed using artificial hydraulic lime. The French Academy of Sciences formally recognized his discoveries in 1818. His work remains to this day a solid bedrock for developments in construction, in particular the current advances being made in hydraulic binding agents and concrete. Honoré de Balzac pays tribute to him in his 1841 novel The Village Priest, writing: "What will be Vicat's reward, the one among us who made the only real progress in the practical science of construction?" Louis Vicat gifted his invention to the world without ever filing a patent.