Synthetic Polymers

Polymers are large molecules composed of repeated chemical units. The smallest repeating unit is called a mer. The term polymer is derived from the Greek words poly and mers meaning "many parts." Linear polymers are like ropes. For a polymer chain of 10,000 units (a typical length), a standard half-inch-thick rope would be about 128 meters (140 yards) long to represent the length-to-thickness ratio. Polymers are synthesized naturally and artificially to perform a wide variety of specialized tasks.
The number of repeat units in a chain is called the degree of polymerization (DP) or chain length. Thus, a poly(propylene) chain 5,000 units long would have a DP of 5,000 and an "n" value of 5,000. Because most polymer mixtures contain chains of varying lengths, the chain length is often referred to in terms of average chain length or average DP.
Copolymers are polymers derived from two different monomers.
Some linear chains have extensions (beyond the substitution) coming off the polymer backbone. These extensions are called branches and influence a polymer's properties. Branches may be long or short, frequent or infrequent. For example, so-called low density polyethylene (LDPE) has between forty and one hundred short branches for every 1,000 ethylene units, whereas high density polyethylene (HDPE) has only one to six short branches for every 1,000 ethylene units. Branching discourages the chains from fitting close together so that the structure will be amorphous with relatively large amounts of empty space. Regular structures with little or no branching allow the polymer chains to fit close together, forming a crystalline structure. Crystalline structures are generally stronger, more brittle, of higher density, more resistant to chemical penetration and degradation, less soluble, and have higher melting points. For example, HDPE has a density of 0.97 gram per milliliter and a melting point of about 130°C (266°F), whereas LDPE has a density of about 0.92 gram per milliliter and a melting point of about 100°C

  • Mechanochemical modeling of synthetic polymers
  • Uses of synthetic polymers in daily life
  • Synthetic polymers with intrinsic anticancer activity
  • Thermal decomposition of cellulose/synthetic polymer
  • Synthetic polymers used in biopharmaceutical delivery
  • Synthetic organic polymers are human made

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