Meaning of Polymers

What are Polymers:

Polymer is a chain of 5 or more of the same monomers, a monomer being a molecule of low molecular weight and simple structure.

The word polymer derives from the Greek composed of the words polys which means "many" and mere indicating "part."

A polymer is characterized by containing several equal molecules linked by bonds. Polymers are synthesized naturally in the cells of living beings but also synthetically, such as those obtained through polymerization.

Polymer in chemistry

In chemistry, polymers are monomers that group together due to the presence of chemical reagents or due to the induction of chemical reactions. This process is called polymerization.

The polymerization can be of 2 types: the polymerization by addition and condensation used, for example, for the manufacture of polyester and the polymerization of chain growth and stages that is used in petroleum derivatives for the creation of plastic.

See also Plastic.

Polymer in biology

In biology, polymers form the basis of various macromolecules present in the organisms of living things. Polymer refers to the general name given to all structures composed of 5 or more monomers or equal low weight molecules.

An example of a polymer synthesized by living beings is the polynucleotide, a polymer of nucleotides that constitutes the central structure of nucleic acids such as DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) and RNA (ribonucleic acid).

See also Nucleotide.

Polymer types

Polymers are classified as inorganic and organic.

Among the inorganic polymers we can find, for example, glass and silicone. In this sense, the compounds produced by natural processes such as metals or minerals, or by chemical manipulation processed in laboratories are called inorganic.

On the other hand, organic polymers are made of compounds or molecules that living things synthesize. There are 2 types of organic polymers: natural and synthetic.

Natural organic polymers

Natural organic polymers can be:

  • Polysaccharides: chain of monosaccharides or simple sugars, such as starch, cellulose and vegetable gums.
  • Polypeptides: chain of at least 10 amino acids, such as proteins, globulin, and insulin.
  • Hydrocarbons: chains of carbon and hydrogen atoms, such as rubber.

Synthetic organic polymers

Synthetic organic polymers are generated by applying chemical reactions in the laboratory on organic compounds and can be of the following types:

  • Thermoplastic elastomers (TPE): nylon, polyethylene (PE), polypropylene (PP) and acrylate resins.
  • Thermoset elastomers: polyester, phenolic and alkyd.
  • Semi-synthetic cellulosics: rayon, cellulose acetate and modified starches such as starch acetate.
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