Polymer (Encyclopedia of Science)
A polymer is a very large molecule in which one or two small units is repeated over and over again. The small repeating units are known as monomers. Imagine that a monomer can be represented by the letter A. Then a polymer made of that monomer would have the structure:
In another kind of polymer, two different monomers might be involved. If the letters A and B represent those monomers, then the polymer could be represented as:
A polymer with two different monomers is known as a copolymer.
The number of monomers (As or Bs) in a polymer is very great indeed. To accurately represent the first polymer above, for example, it might be necessary to write a few hundred or a few thousand As. We would have to fill up a page or two of this book to give an accurate formula for such a polymer.
Polymers are very common in nature; some of the most widespread naturally occurring substances are polymers. Starch and cellulose are examples. Green plants have the ability to take the simple sugar known as glucose and make very long chains containing many glucose units. These long chains are molecules of starch or cellulose. If we assign the symbol...
(The entire section is 535 words.)
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