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- Created 2012-03-14
/ˈpä-lə-mər/ encompasses a very large, broad classes of
, both natural and synthetic, with a wide variety of properties. Because of the extraordinary range of properties of polymeric materials, they play an essential and ubiquitous roles in everyday life, from those of familiar synthetic
s and other materials of day-to-day work and home life, to the natural
that are fundamental to biological structure and function.
A polymer is a chemical
or mixture of compounds consisting of repeating structural units created through a process of
. The term derives from the ancient Greek word πολύς (polus, meaning "many, much") and μέρος (meros, meaning "parts"), and refers to a
whose structure is composed of multiple repeating units, from which originates a characteristic of high
relative molecular mass
and attendant properties. The units composing polymers derive, actually or conceptually, from molecules of low relative molecular mass. The term was coined in 1833 by
Jöns Jacob Berzelius
, though with a definition distinct from the modern
definition. Polymers are studied in the fields of
Historically, products arising from the linkage of repeating units by
s have been the primary focus of polymer science; emerging important areas of the science now focus on non-covalent links. Because of the stipulation as to repeating substructures, polymers are formally a subclass of the category of
are examples of polymeric natural/biological and synthetic polymers, respectively. In biological contexts, essentially all biological macromolecules—i.e.,
(polynucleotides), and polysaccharides—are purely polymeric, or are composed in large part of polymeric components—e.g., isoprenylated/lipid-modified glycoproteins, where small lipidic molecule and oligosaccharide modifications occur on the polyamide backbone of the protein.
from Wikipedia (last updated: 25 May), licensed under
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