Polymer Science 101 | Regain Polymers

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Polymer Science 101

Polymers are large, typically chain-like molecules made of lots of smaller units known as monomers. There are various kinds of monomers, and these can be combined in different ways to form different polymers.

The name "polymer" doesn’t define the materials that polymers are made of. Some polymers, such as natural sand or synthetic silicone oils, are made around silicon. However, most polymers centre on carbon.

There are so many similarities between the two that some people call this Group on the periodic table the "carbon family." Carbon and silicon both have the ability to create long chains of atoms that include bonds with other elements. Heavier elements such as lead, however, are made of larger atoms unable to form the various chains and compounds for which silicon and carbon are noted.

Although it is at the centre of a large range of inorganic compounds, not even silicon can compete with carbon in its ability to form arrangements of atoms of various shapes and sizes, and therefore to join in an almost endless range of compounds. The reason for this is that carbon atoms are a lot smaller than silicon atoms, and can bond to one another whilst leaving room for other bonds.

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