Polymers are very important products of chemical industry which have a great impact on our modern life. Plastics, synthetic fibres, synthetic rubber etc. are common examples of polymers. Polymers are also present in all living organisms. For example, proteins, carbohydrates. Natural rubber and wood are also polymers.
Polymers are compounds of very high molecular masses formed by the combination of a large number of simple molecules. Literally the word polymer consists of two words ‘poly’ and ‘mer’. In Greek language poly means ‘many’ and mer means ‘parts’. So, when a large number of parts combine with each other then the product formed is called polymer. Polythene and poly- vinyl chloride (PVC) are common examples of polymers.
The simple molecules which combine to give polymers are called monomers. Ethene and vinyl chloride are common examples of monomers.
The process by which the simple molecules (monomers) are converted into polymers is called polymerization. For example, polythene is a polymer which is formed from its monomer ethene as given below:
Homopolymer and Copolymer
A polymer formed from one type of monomers is called homopolymer. For example, polythene is a homopolymer of monomer of ethene.
A polymer formed from two or more different monomers is called copolymer. For example, nylon-66 is a copolymer because it is formed from two types monomers: hexamethylenediamine, and adipic acid