Bonding & Structure
- Polymers are large molecules of high relative molecular mass and are made by linking together large numbers of smaller molecules called monomers.
- Each monomer is a repeat unit and is connected to the adjacent units via strong covalent bonds.
- The intermolecular forces acting in between polymer chains are larger than those in between simple molecules so polymers are usually solid at room temperature.
- Some polymers called homopolymers contain just one type of unit.
- Examples include polythene and polychloroethene, commonly known as PVC.
- Others contain two or more different types of monomer units which are called copolymers.
- Examples of copolymers include synthetic rubber used in the production of disposable gloves and car tyres.
- Many everyday materials such as resins, plastics, polystyrene cups, nylon etc. are polymers.
- These are manufactured and are called synthetic polymers.
- Nature also produces polymers which are called natural or biological polymers.
- Examples include DNA, proteins, silk and wool.
- Polymers are represented using a specific notation which is shown below using polythene as an example.
- The bonds on either side of the polymer must extend outside the brackets (these are called extension or continuation bonds).
- A small subscript n is written on the bottom right hand side to indicate a large number of repeat units.
Polymerisation of ethene monomers produces polythene
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Morgan’s passion for the Periodic Table begun on his 10th birthday when he received his first Chemistry set. After studying the subject at university he went on to become a fully fledged Chemistry teacher, and now works in an international school in Madrid! In his spare time he helps create our fantastic resources to help you ace your exams.