Free Chemistry Dictionary

Video Example : Polymer



Definition of Polymer

A polymer is a large molecule, or macromolecule, composed of many repeated subunits, known as monomers

More About Polymer

Because of their broad range of properties, both synthetic and natural polymers play an essential role in everyday life

  • Polymers range from familiar synthetic plastics such as polystyrene (or Styrofoam) to natural biopolymers such as DNA and proteins that are fundamental to biological structures
  • Polymers are created by polymerisation of monomers
  • The large molecular mass of polymers compared to small molecules results in special properties of polymers
  • These special physical properties include toughness, viscoelasticity, and a tendency to form glasses and semi crystalline structures rather than crystals
  • The term ‘polymer’ refers to a molecule whose structure is composed of multiple repeating units, from which a characteristic of high relative molecular mass and attendant properties originate
  • The units composing polymers derive, from molecules of low relative molecular mass
  • In the earlier days, chemists doubted the existence of molecules having molecular weights greater than a few thousand
  • When natural compounds such as rubber and cellulose were studied, it was proposed that these molecules were made up of macromolecules composed of 10000 or more atoms
  • Staudinger formulated a polymeric structure for rubber, based on a repeating isoprene unit
  • Polymers occur in nature also
  • Cotton is a polymer called cellulose
  • A synthetic fibre is a chain of small units joined together
  • Each small unit is actually a chemical substance. Many such small units join together to form a single unit called polymer
  • The word polymer comes from Greek word “poly” meaning many and mer meaning part/unit
  • A polymer is made up of many repeating units
  • Polymers are a large class of materials consisting of many small molecules that can be linked together to form long chains, thus they are known as macromolecules
  • The small molecules are called monomers
  • Because of their large size, polymers are classified as macromolecules

Uses of Polymers

  • Humans have taken advantage of polymers for centuries in the form of oils, tars, resins, and gums
  • Production of vulcanized rubber
  • Production of celluloid, a hard plastic formed from nitrocellulose
  • Production of vinyl, neoprene, polystyrene, and nylon
  • Polymers such as cotton, wool, rubber, Teflon, and all plastics are used in nearly every industry
  • Natural and synthetic polymers can be produced with a wide range of stiffness, strength, heat resistance, density, and even price
  • Polymers are playing an ever increasing role in society