The answer of what is a polymer is polymers are long lasting substances that are repeated in series of molecules. The materials have unique properties, depending on which types of molecules are tied and how they are bound. Some polymers twist and stretch, such as rubber and polyester. Others are hard and tough, such as epoxy and glass.
The word polymer comes from the Greek prefix poly-, which means “many”, and suffix -mer, which means “parts” The word was coined by Jons Jacob Barzaleus in 1833, although with a little different meaning than modern definition. In 1920, Herman Stodinger proposed a modern understanding of polymers in the form of macromolecules.
Polymerization is a method of synthetic polymers by mixing small molecules in a chain that is put together by covalent bonds. Various chemical reactions – which are due to heat and pressure, for example – according to Scientific American, changing chemical bonds, which keep monomers together. Due to this process the molecules are bound in a linear, branched or network structure, resulting in polymers.
These chains of monomers also called as macromolecules. According to the Polymer Science Learning Center, a single macromolecule may contain thousands of monomers.
Examples of Polymers
Polymers are divided into two categories Natural polymers and Synthetic polymers.
Natural polymers (also called biopolymers) include silk, cellulose, rubber, wool, collagen, keratin, starch, DNA. Biopolymers perform important functions in organisms, functioning as structural proteins, functional proteins, nucleic acids, structural polysaccharides, and energy storage molecules.
Synthetic polymers are prepared by a chemical reaction in a laboratory. Examples of synthetic polymers include PVC (polyvinyl chloride), silicon, synthetic rubber, polystyrene, polyethylene and nylon. Synthetic polymers used to produce plastic, adhesives, paint, mechanical parts and many common objects.
Uses of polymers
Polymers are used in almost every field of modern life. There are polymers in grocery bags, water and soda bottles, textile fibers, computers, phones, food packaging, auto parts and toys.
Polymers for manufacturing include polyethylene and polypropylene. Their molecules can contain 10,000 to 200,000 monomers.
History of Polymer
The use of Natural polymers is since from ancient time. The first man-made plastic was nitrocellulose. Alexander Parks prepares the process of making nitrocellulose in 1862.
He treated natural polymer cellulose with nitric acid and a solvent. When nitrocellulose treated with camphor, celluloid get produced. celluloid is a polymer which is used in the film industry.
When nitrocellulose dissolved in ether and alcohol, it becomes collodan. This polymer used as a surgical dressing, which started in the American Civil War.
Vulcanization of rubber
Frederick Lundersdorf and Nathaniel Hayward added sulfur in natural rubber and prevent it from being sticky. Thomas Hancock (UK Patent) in 1843 and Charles Goodyear (US Patent) in 1844 described the process of vulcanizing rubber by connecting sulfur and heat.
Future of polymers
Researchers are experimenting with many different types of polymers, which aim to increase medical products and the products we are already using.
For example, carbon polymers for automotive industry are being developed and enhanced.
Artificial skin anti-aging efforts made from silicon polymers can be the future. According to a study published in May 2016 of the journal Nature Materials, in the form of two creams, polymers may be able to tighten the skin of a person, according to a study published in May 2016, could reduce the appearance of wrinkles.
Polymers are also used to increase the hologram. According to a study published by the University of Pennsylvania scientists in Nano Letters 2017, a hologram with gold nanorods was made of flexible polymer material called PDMA. This new hologram device can hold many images instead of just one.
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