What are polymers?


Polymers are big molecules - poly for many and mer for the structural unit. Let M be a mer such as water, H2O or methane CH4, then
M would represent a monomer, MMM or Mx where x is fro 2 to 100 would be an oligomer and MMMM ---- MMMM or  Mx where is 100 and up to infinity or a large as one can imagine would be a polymer.  For low molecular weight polymers, x (degreee of polymerization) would range from 100 to 1000; medium molecular weights, 1000 to 10 000;  high molecular weight, 10 000 to 100 000, ultrahigh molecular weight,  millions and up; and finally for thermosets, x would be infinity or so large one can't measure them.  Crosslinking is a way of converting lower molecular weight polymers to high molecular molecular weight materials and finally to thermosets.

In the language of the nonchemist they are sticky, gooey and sometime hard organic materials, in contrast to liquids like water or gases like oxygen.  They are usually the organic materials used for building things. In practice polymers include plastics, rubber, composites, biomaterials, coatings, adhesives, wood, paper  - i.e. any thing that can support a load.

On the internet are introductions and even courses for the novice.  The links that I know about are listed below.


Plastics --- The Basics

An introduction to Plastics by the American Plastics Council.  If you want to know what all the fuss is about, this could be the place to start.

If you want answers to your own questions, I would be pleased to provide that.  Send an email message with the question to cornelrd@bee.net .

I am a retired professor of Materials Engineering from Drexel University in Philadelphia.  For over twenty years I introduced audiences of all types to polymers.  My resume is given at Corneliussen on this site. 

You send me the question by email and I will try answer it as best I can.  I will give you one free question.  If that is not clear,  follow-up with questions.  This is can continue until either of us quits. 

I will do my best to answer the questions as accurately as I can within a day or so.

Roger D. Corneliussen
Maro Polymer Links
327 Huffman Drive
Exton, PA 19341

Tel: 610 363 9920
Fax:610 363 9921


Hit Counter