What is a Polymer in Chemistry?
A look at polymers in chemistry and the role they play.
A polymer is a complex grouping of molecules. These are also known as repeating units. Polymers form a three-dimensional network – going side to side, back to front, and up and down. They are linked together through a chemical bond. As these individual strands of molecules link together, they build something else. One of the most recognizable types of polymers is plastic. Every plastic grocery bag or plastic bottle you hold is made up of millions of polymers.
Understanding Polymer Makeup
A polymer company has the goal of designing these polymer strands. Their work may include creating new strands of polymers to achieve specific goals based on the unique factors that make up those individual units. But, how does it all work? How does it come together?
As noted, polymers are made up of repeating chains. These are very long and contain millions of molecules. The chains have various properties. This is determined by the types of molecules that are bonded together as well as how they bond. Depending on the combination of polymers, some will stretch and bend. Others will become very hard like glass. Some are more like plastics that can have various qualities to them.
You’ll find polymers like these in every facet of life. They are in the tires on your car. They make up the glass windows on your home. Many of the polymers we talk about are synthetic polymers, like plastics. However, the term polymer can also be used to describe naturally occurring polymers. Some examples of these include wood and rubber. These polymers contain isoprene and hydrocarbon. The proteins in your body are also natural polymers. They are made up of amino acids. Even DNA is a type of polymer chain.
To develop these long chains, polymers go through a process called polymerization. This is how synthetic polymers are developed. In this process, smaller molecules that are the same to each other, called monomers, link together in a chain. This occurs by the process of covalent bonds. There are many ways these bonds can happen. Sometimes it is due to pressure. Other times it is due to heat. These forces cause the monomers to hold together and bond. This creates a linear or network structure. These structures are polymers.
Another topic you may hear about are macromolecules. The chains of monomers that form are called this. Most often, they have a string of carbon atoms that hold them together. This is called the backbone. In just one single macromolecule, there can be hundreds of thousands of monomers linked together like this.
What Is Polymer Chemistry?
A person working in polymer chemistry, or a polymer chemist, has the job of understanding and researching the development of polymers. They learn how smaller building blocks – called monomers – combine to each other and what it takes for various features to occur when they do bind together. They often work with a polymer company to understand and then create polymer structures that have very specific compositions. This allows them to achieve various goals, like bending or being very durable. To achieve this type of understanding, polymer chemists have to apply very specific and precise amounts of pressure or force on polymers to achieve the desired goal.
The benefit here is that polymers can be altered and changed in such ways to achieve very specific properties in the final product.
What Role Does a Polymer Company Play in This Process?
A polymer chemist or a polymer professional has the job of understanding and manipulating the characteristics of polymers to achieve a specific property. This could be a biological property, a chemical property, or in some cases, the physical properties of the end structure. For example, by understanding how polymers work in chemistry, these professionals can create new structures that may be very lightweight to solve a problem. They may be very strong or hard. They may be very flexible or be able to handle intense amounts of electrical power.
Another way that polymers play a role in chemistry is in solving the concerns of the end product. For example, a polymer company may be working to develop a new solution for a construction problem that is far less expensive but no less durable. They may be looking for a product that can adapt to a very specific environment. They may also be looking for a product that has very specific properties to use within technology.
Polymers are a part of sports, transportation, and electronics. They are a part of every building construction project and even in the production of energy. Polymers in chemistry are not a single type of entity or end product, though. Because they can be manipulated in so many ways, the possibilities of achieving a specific goal are numerous.
Working with a Polymer Company
Those who work in this industry spend most of their time in research. They can help companies of all types solve problems by finding new solutions or developing a better understanding of how a polymer structure can respond to a specific situation. It is possible to develop new products through this type of understanding. The end result is nearly always that the chemist can provide a product that is better suited for or more uniquely designed to achieve a specific goal.
For those that are looking for a polymer company capable of creating a very specific end result or seeking solutions to complex problems, Polymer Chemistry Innovations, Inc can help.