What polymers are

Polymers are high weight macromolecules, formed by smaller molecule chains, called monomers, which therefore represent structural units.

The monomers are bonded to each other by one or more covalent bonds in order to form the polymer. The reaction that leads to the formation of the polymers is the polymerisation. To understand in detail what polymers are, think about cellulose, which is one of the best-known polymers in nature.

Polymers are generally linear, fibers, or branched. The possible presence of double bonds, unsaturations, in the polymer chain allows the connection with other monomers and the formation of three-dimensional structures, cross-linking.

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What polymers are: recognize and identify them through classifications

There are several polymers classification methods commonly used in the chemical-industrial sector.

If we stop to analyze the origin, polymers can be divided into:

  • Natural Polymers

  • Artificial Polymers

  • Synthetic polymers

A further classification considers the type of primary structure with which these chains of monomeric units occur, distinguishing between:

  • Linear polymers, in which the chains are formed exclusively by bifunctional units

  • Branched polymers, in which polyfunctional units are also present

An example of branched polymer is starch, whereas linear polymers can include wool, cotton, polyethylene, vinyl polymers and polyamides.

All fields of use and application of polymers

From the 1950s onwards, the number of synthetic polymers produced in the laboratory has gradually increased, being used in several fields such as building industry, automotive industry, synthetic paints production, production of tires and various plastic materials.

If the polymeric structure is the element combining the various products and explains what the polymers are, the chemical-physical properties that characterise each substance may vary, resulting in substantial differences in the fields of use. Requirements such as mechanical strength, ductility, elasticity, and solubility may therefore be different depending on the polymer.