A polymer Is a large molecule, or macromolecule, composed of many repeated subunits. Because of their broad range of properties, both synthetic and natural polymers play an essential and ubiquitous role in everyday life. Polymers range from familiar synthetic plastics such as polystyrene to natural biopolymers such as DNA and proteins that are fundamental to biological structure and function. Polymers, both natural and synthetic, are created via polymerization of many small molecules, known asmonomers. Their consequently large molecular mass relative to small molecule compounds produces unique physical properties, includingtoughness, viscoelasticity, and a tendency to form glasses and semicrystalline structures rather than crystals.
Polymerization is a process of reacting monomer molecules together in a chemical reaction to form polymer chains or three-dimensional networks.
Types of Polymers & Its Uses:
1) Polycarbonate: It is a clear plastic used to make shatterproof windows, lightweight eyeglass lenses, and many other items that have lightweight applications. There are two types of polycarbonates, thermoplastic and thermoset. A thermoplastic can be molded in any shape when it is hot whereas a thermoset does not melt, and it cannot be remolded nor recycled. They are used to make things that need to be really strong and heat resistant.
2) Polyethylene: This is probably the polymer that you see and use the most in your day to day routine. Polyethylene is the most popular and widely used plastic in the world. It is used to make items like grocery bags, shampoo bottles, children’s toys, plastic food containers and even bullet proof vests.
3) Polyesters: Polyesters are the polymers, in the form of fibers which are now also made into a fabric. It is used to make normal clothing since polyester is economical. Apart from clothes it is also a plastic, and is often used to make shatterproof bottles that hold your favorite refreshing beverages and drinks.
4) Polystyrene: Polystyrene is an inexpensive and hard plastic commonly used in everyday life. The outside housing of the computer you are using is probably made of polystyrene, as well as the housings of electrical equipment like hairdryers, TVs and kitchen appliances. Model cars and airplanes are made from polystyrene, as well as many other toys. There is also foam packaging and insulation and a lot of molded parts on the inside of your car, like the radio knobs.