Polymer – definition and classification of polymers



Polymers (poly = many, mers = parts) are large molecules built up of a number of smaller molecules (called monomers). Common uses of polymers are bakelite, polyethylene, cellulose, polyvinyl chloride, silk, wool, rubber, leather etc. Synthetic polymers like plastics, nylon etc, has been developed to serve as substitutes for natural polymers. This has led to a tremendous growth of the polymer industry.


Polymers may be classified in more than one manner. The conventional classification is denoted in the following chart;

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The second method of classification is to categories them as homo and hetero types. In the former case a polymer consists of similar atoms such as polythenes, PVC, polystyrene etc. while a heteropolymer contains different atoms such as silicones, polyamides, polyesters etc. in the main chain.

Polymers may also be classified as addition polymers and condensation polymers depending on the mechanism of reactions involved in their formation.

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