Polymers are large molecules made up of multiple monomers, molecules that combine repeatedly with themselves or other monomers (copolymers). Dimers, trimers, and tetramers are made up of two, three, and four monomers, respectively. Any molecule of five or more monomers is a polymer. For example, the styrene monomer (C6H5CHCH2) readily polymerizes to make polystyrene (C6H5CHCH2)n where n denotes the number of repeating monomeric units, which in this case ranges between 2000 to 3000. Cellulose, (C6H10O5)n, a natural polymer, can consist of 3500 repeating units. High polymers are those with a molecular weight (the sum of the atomic weights of its constituents) of over 5000 or 6000. Polymers can be divided into those that occur naturally, those that are synthetic, and semisynthetics (manufacturing manipulations of natural cellulose and starches).


Natural Rubber Polyester Resin Polystyrene Bead Organic Peroxide Polymeric Bead 
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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Malcolm A. Fox

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