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Chapter 26 Polymers- Chemistry free study material by TEACHING CARE online tuition and coaching classes

Chapter 26 Polymers- Chemistry free study material by TEACHING CARE online tuition and coaching classes



Polymers are compound of very high molecular masses formed by the combination of a large number of simple molecules.

The simple molecules which combine to give polymers are called monomers. The process by which the simple molecule (i.e. monomers) are converted into polymers is called polymerisation.

Example : Polyethylene or polythene is a polymer of ethylene (monomer unit).

nCH 2  = CH 2  ¾¾Poly¾me¾risat¾io¾n ® – (CH 2  – CH 2 -)n


Ethylene (monomers)


Polymer are also called macromolecule because of their big size.

Polyethylene (polymer)


Note : ®            All polymers are macromolecule but all macromolecules are not polymers because polymer consist repeating unit of monomer e.g., chlorophyll is a macromolecule but not a polymer.

Polymers are classified in a number of ways as described below.

  • Classification based on source of
  • Classification based upon
  • Classification based upon molecular
  • Classification based upon mode of
  • Classification based upon the nature of
  • Classification based on source of availability : They are classified as
    • Natural polymers (ii) Synthetic polymers        (iii) Semi-synthetic polymers
  • Natural polymers : The polymers obtained from nature (plants and animals) are called natural These polymers are very essential for life. They are as under.
  • Starch : It is polymer of glucose and it is food reserve of
  • Cellulose : It also a polymer of glucose. It is a chief structural material of the plant both starch and cellulose are made by plants from glucose produced during
  • Proteins : These are polymers of a-amino acids, they have generally 20 to 1000 a amino acid joined together in a highly organized These are building blocks of animal body and constitute an essential part of our food.
  • Nucleic acids : These are polymers of various nucleotides. For example RNA and DNA are common

Note : ®            It may be noted that polymers such as polysaccharides (starch, cellulose), proteins and nucleic acids etc. which control various life processes in plants and animals are also called biopolymers.


  • Synthetic polymers : The polymers which are prepared in the laboratories are called synthetic These are also called man made polymers. For example polyethene, PVC nylon, teflon, bakelite terylene, synthetic rubber etc.
  • Semisynthetic polymers : These polymers are mostly derived from naturally occurring polymers by chemical For example cellulose is naturally occurring polymers, cellulose on acetylation with acetic anhydride in the presence of sulphuric acid forms cellulose diacetate polymers. It is used in making thread and




materials like films glasses etc. Vulcanized rubber is also a example of semisynthetic polymers used in making tyres etc. gun cotton which is cellulose nitrate used in making explosive.

Note : ®            Semi-synthetic polymers : Rayon and other cellulose derivatives like cellulose nitrate, cellulose acetate etc., are semi-synthetic polymers. These are thermoplastic polymers. Viscose rayon in the form of a thin transparent film is known as cellophane. Cellophane is softened with glycerol. Unlike plastic sheets it absorbs water.

  • Rayon : Rayon is a man made material which consists of purified cellulose in the form of long Cellulose is treated with cold NaOH solution to purify it and then treated with CS2 to form a viscose solution. This is why rayon is sometimes called viscose rayon. This solution is allowed to pass through fine pores in metal cylinder, into a dilute solution of H2SO4. This results in the formation of long fibres. Rayon fibre is chemically identical to cotton but has a shine like silk. As such rayon is also known as artificial silk. Rayon is used on a large scale for making textiles, tyre-chord, carpets and surgical dressings. Unlike fully synthetic polymers, it absorbs moisture and is bio-degradable.
  • Classification based upon structure : On the basis of structure of polymers these can be classified as
    • Linear polymers  (ii) Branched chain polymers          (iii) Cross linked polymers
  • Linear polymers : These are polymers in which monomeric units are linked together to form linear chain (as of figure). These linear polymers are well packed and therefore have high densities, high tensil (pulling) strength and high melting points. Some common example of linear polymers are polyethylene nylon, polyester, PVC, PAN
  • Branched chain polymers : These are polymers in which the monomers are joined to form long chains with side chains or branches of different lengths (as of figure). These branched chain polymers are irregularly packed and therefore, they have low tensile strength and melting points than linear polymers. Some common examples are low density polythene, glycogen, starch (Amylopectin).
  • Cross linked polymers : These are polymers in which monomers unit are crosslinked together to form a three dimensional network polymers. These polymers are hard, rigid and brittle because of network structure (as of figure) e.g., Bakelite, malamine formaldehyde resin


Note : ®            Linear polymers generally have higher magnitude of inter particle forces and thus possess high density and high melting point. Such polymers have high tensile strength in the direction of polymer chain and very low tensile strength at right angle to it.

Branched chain polymers generally have low density and low melting point. Such polymers have almost equal tensile strength in all directions, which is less than that in linear chain polymers.




  • Classification based upon molecular forces : Depending upon the intermolecular forces, the polymers have been classified into four

(i) Elastomers                (ii) Fibres                (iii) Thermoplastics                (iv) Thermosetting polymers

  • Elastomers : The polymers that have elastic character like rubber (a material that can return to its original shape after stretching is said to be elastic) are called In elastomers the polymers chains are held together by weak intermolecular forces. Because of the presence of weak forces, the polymers can be easily stretched by applying small stress and regains their original shape when the stress is removed. The most important example of elastomers is natural rubber.
  • Fibres : These are the polymers which have strong intermolecular forces between the chain. These forces are either hydrogen bonds or dipole-dipole interaction. Because of strong forces, the chains are closely packed giving them high tensil strength and less Therefore, these polymers have sharp melting points. These polymers are long, thin and thread like and can be woven in fabric. Therefore, these are used for making fibres.

Example : Nylon 66, dacron, silk etc.

  • Thermoplastics : These are the polymers which can be easily softened repeatedly when heated and hardened when cooled with little change in their properties. The intermolecular forces in these polymers are intermediate between those of elastomers and There is no cross linking between the chain. The softening occurs as the polymer chain move more and more freely because of absence of cross link. When heated, they melt and form a fluid which can be moulded into any desired shapes and then cooled to get the desired product.

Example : Polythene, polystyrene, PVC, teflon etc.

  • Thermosetting polymers : These are the polymers which undergo permanent change on They become hard and infusible on heating. They are generally prepared from low molecular mass semifluid substances. When heated they get highly cross linked to form hard infusible and insoluble products. The cross links hold the molecule in place so that heating does not allow them to move freely. Therefore a thermosetting plastic is cross linked and is permanently rigid.

Example : Bakelite, melamine formaldehyde etc.

Note : ®            Plasticizers do lower the softening point (so called melting point) of a polymer. A plasticizer cannot convert a thermosetting polymer into thermoplastic one. In fact plasticizers can convert a hard and brittle plastic into soft and easily pliable. Plasticizers reduce the interparticle forces between polymer molecules. Plasticizers are generally high-boiling esters or high-boiling haloalkanes. They are added to plastics to make them soft and rubber-like. For example, polyvinyl chloride as such is hard, stiff and glass-like, but the addition of plasticizers like dioctylphthalate (DOP) or dibutylphthalate (DBP) can make it soft and rubber like. Similarly, chlorinated paraffin wax (CPW) is used as a plasticizer in polythene. On long exposure to air and sunlight, these plasticizers evaporate and the plastic articles become hard and brittle.

Difference between thermoplastic and thermosetting polymers




  • Classification based upon mode of synthesis : They are of two types on the basis of their
    • Addition polymers (ii) Condensation polymers
  • Addition polymers : A polymer formed by direct addition of repeated monomers without the elimination of by product molecule is called addition For example,

nCH 2 = CH 2  ® – (CH 2  – CH 2 -)n





é                       ù


nCH  CH = CH   ® ê- CH   CH


3                           2        ê

Propylene                      êë

2       |







  • Condensation polymers : A polymer formed by the condensation of two or more than two monomers with the elimination of simple molecule like water, ammonia HCl, alcohol is called condensation polymers. For example,

æ                                                                ö

ç                                      ||                                ÷

nH 2 N – (CH 2 )6  – NH 2 + nHOOC – (CH 2 )4  – COOH ¾¾nH¾2¾O ®ç- NH – (CH 2 )6  – NHC– (CH 2 )4  – C




Adipic acid



è                           Nylon-66

||  ÷

O  ÷

ø n


Difference between addition and condensation polymers


Addition polymers Condensation polymers
Formed by addition reaction. Formed by condensation process with elimination of
  small molecules like H2O.
Molecular mass is a whole number multiple of the Molecular mass is not whole number multiple of the
monomer. monomer units.
Generally involve one monomer unit. Generally involve more than one monomer unit.
Monomers are unsaturated molecules. Monomer  units   must   have   two   active   functional
They are generally chain growth polymers. They are generally step growth polymers.
  • Classification based upon the nature of monomer : On the basis of nature of Polymer are of two type
    • Homopolymer s (ii) Copolymers




  • Homopolymers : A polymer formed from one type of monomers is called homopolymer. For example, polythene is a homopolymer of monomer

nH 2 C = CH 2  ¾¾Poly¾me¾risat¾io¾n ® -(CH 2  – CH 2  -)n  Homopolymer

Ethene                                                      Polythene

  • Copolymers : A polymer formed from two or more different monomers is called copolymer or mixed polymer. For example, nylon-66 is a polymer of two types of monomers : hexamethylenediamine and adipic

nH 2 N – (CH 2 )6 – NH 2 + nHOOC – (CH 2 )4  – COOH

Hexamethylenediamine                                  Adipic acid



–(NH – (CH2)6NH CO – (CH2)4CO –)n + nH2O

Nylon-66 (Copolymer)

Copolymer are commercially more important.

For example copolymerisation of vinyl chloride with vinylidene chloride (1, 1 dichloroethane) in a 1 : 4 ratio forms a copolymer known as saran.


æ               Cl ö  æ

Cl ö


ç               |      ÷  ç            |    ÷

H 2 C = CH + CH2  = CCl2  ¾¾Poly¾me¾risat¾io¾n ®ç- CH 2  – CH ÷   ç CH 2  – C


|           Vinylidene chloride

ç                    ÷  ç            |    ÷



Vinyl chloride


Saran polymer

øm è

Cl ø n


Copolymerisation of monomer mixtures often leads to the formation of polymers which have quite different properties than those of either corresponding homopolymer. For example, a mixture of styrene and methyl methacrylate can form a copolymer.







CH 2  = CH  + H 2 C = C ® ~ CH 2 – CH CH 2 – C ~



C6 H5




Methyl methacrylate







The composition of the copolymer depends on the proportion of the monomers and their reactivity. It may be noted that some monomers do not polymerise at all but copolymerize. For example, maleic anhydride does not polymerise as such. However, it copolymerises with styrene in a highly symmetrical manner to form styrene maleic anhydride copolymer.

It may be noted that many types of copolymers can be obtained depending upon the distribution of monomer units in the chain. Two monomers can combine in either regular fashion (although this is rare) or random fashion. For example, if monomer A is copolymerised with monomer B, the resultant product may have a random distribution of the two units throughout the chain or it might have alternating distribution.

(– A – B – A – B – A – B – A – B –)                Alternating copolymer (– A – A – A – B – A – B – B – A – B –)               Random copolymer

The exact distribution of monomer units depends on the initial proportion of the two reactant monomers and their reactivities. Most copolymers have varying distributions. Two other types of copolymers that can be prepared under certain conditions are called block copolymers and graft copolymers.




  • Block copolymers are those in which different blocks of identical monomer units alternate with each other as

(– A – A – A – A – B – B – B – B – A – A – A – A – B – B – B – B –)n

These are prepared by initiating the polymerisation of one monomer as if growing a homopolymer and then adding an excess of second monomer to the active reaction mixture.

  • Graft polymers are those in which homopolymer branches of one monomer units are grafted on the homopolymer chains of another monomer units as :

– (A AA A A A AA A A AA-)n

|                                        |                               |

B                                      B                              B

|                                        |                               |

B                                      B                              B

|                                        |                               |

B                                      B                              B

|n                                                          |n                                             |n

These are prepared by radiation of g-rays on a completed homopolymer chain in the presence of the second monomer. The high energy radiation knocks hydrogen atoms of the homopolymer chain at random points resulting radical sites for initiation of the added monomer. By careful control of the polymerisation reaction, we can produce copolymers of desired properties by combination of different monomers in various ratios and geometric arrangements.

  • Chain growth or addition polymerisation : It involve a series of reaction each of which consumes a reactive particle and produces another similar one. The reactive particle may be free radicals or ion (cation or anion) to which monomers get added by a chain The polymers thus formed are known as chain growth polymers. Chain growth polymerisation is an important reaction of alkenes and conjugated dienes or indeed of all kinds of compounds that contain carbon-carbon double bond polythene, polypropylene, polybutadiene, teflon PVC, polystyrene are some of chain growth polymers. It is based on three mechanism

(i) Free radical mechanism                    (ii) Cation mechanism          (iii) Anion mechanism

Each mechanism of polymerisation reaction involves an initiator of their corresponding nature. The addition polymerisation reaction is very rapid and is also characterized by three steps i.e. chain initiation, chain propogation and chain termination step.

  • Free-radical mechanism : Free-radical polymerisation is initiated by organic peroxide or other reagents which decompose to give free Following steps are involved.
  • Chain initiation : Organic peroxides undergo homolytic fission to form free


O                         O

||                          ||

é      O           ù

heat      ê       ||           ú


RCO – – OCR ¾¾¾® êRCO· ú ® R·  + CO2





ëê               úû




  • Chain propagation : Free radical adds to an alkene molecule to form a new free



R· + CH

  • ·


® R CH2

  • CH2




The free radical formed attacks another alkene molecule and the process continues in building a long chain.


  • ··                                                                   ·

RCH 2 CH 2  +  CH 2 – CH 2  ® RCH 2 CH 2 CH 2 CH 2

  • Chain termination : The chain reaction comes to halt when two free radical chains


2R(CH 2 CH 2 )n CH 2 CH 2  ® R(CH 2 CH 2 )n CH 2 CH 2  : CH 2 CH 2 (CH 2 CH 2 )n R

Note : ® Benzoyl or t-Butyl peroxide are common initiators, used.

Free radical polymerisation can also be initiated by a mixture of ferrous sulphate and hydrogen peroxide (FeSO4 + H 2 O2 ) .


  • Cationic mechanism : Cationic polymerisation is initiated by use of acids such as

H 2O . The following steps are involved :

  • Chain initiation : The acid furnishes

H 2SO4 , HF or BF3 in


HSO4  ⇌

H + + HSO






H + + F


BF3 + H 2 O H + + BF3 (OH)

The proton adds to the carbon of the double bond of the alkene to form a carbonium ion.



H + + CH 2

= CH 2


® CH3 C H 2


  • Chain propagation : The carbonium ion combines with another molecule of alkene to form a new carbonium ion and the process continues to form a long


+                                                                                                                +

CH3 CH2 + CH2  = CH3  ® CH3 CH2CH2CH2


+                                                                                                                                                            +

CH3 CH 2 CH 2 CH 2 + nCH 2  = CH 2  ® CH3 CH 2 (CH 2 CH 2 )n CH 2 CH 2

  • Chain termination : The chain may be halted by combination with negative ion or loss of a



CH3 CH 2 (CH 2 CH 2 )n CH CH 2  ® CH3 CH 2 (CH 2 CH 2 )n CH = CH 2  + H 2 SO4




H           HSO




  • Anionic polymerisation : This type of polymerisation is initiated by anion (Bases nucleophiles) it


proceeds through the formation of carbanion. The initiation may be brought about by The following steps are involved

K + NH 2

of L+ NH 2 .


  • Chain initiation :

Nu + CH 2  = CH ® Nu CH 2  – CH


|                                         |

W                                      W





  • Chain propagation :



                                  æ                        ö


NuCH   CH + CH

= CH ® Nu CH


CH ¾¾Rep¾e¾at ®       ç- CH    CH -÷  CH    


2       |      2


2        |                                2       |                   2       |

W                                      W                        W

ç               |

æ                  ö                                       æ

Nu              2                  ÷        2

è              W         øn



  • Termination :

Nu – ç CH   CH ÷  – CH   + H + ®           ç- CH

  • CH CH


ç               |

ç      2       |      ÷

è           W     øn

Nu              2                  ÷        3

è              W        øn



Chain transfer agents : In Vinylic polymerisation various other molecules react with main growing chain to interrupt the further growth of the original chain. This leads to lowering of average molecular mass of the polymer


such reagents are called chain transfer agents. The common example CCl 4 , CBr4



CH 2

For example in the presence of which also contains some chlorine.

CCl 4

styrene polymerizes to form a polymer of lower average molecular mass


CH 2

= CH



¾¾Initi¾at¾or ® ·

    • CH



® CH 2

  • CH Cl + CCl3


C6 H5


æ                                             H       ö

  • · ç                                              |         ÷

CH 2 =  CH    ¾¾CC¾l3  ® Cl3C – CH 2 –  CH   ¾¾Styr¾e¾ne ®ç Cl3C – CH 2 – C H – CH 2 –  C –   ÷

|                                                             |                              ç                        |                            |         ÷


C6 H5

C6 H5                        è

C6 H5

C6 H5 øn


Chain transfer agents determinate chain reaction and inhibit further polymerisation and are also called inhibitors.

  • Step growth or condensation polymerisation : In this type of polymerisation monomers generally contain two functional groups, e., difunctional monomers. In this process no initiator is needed and each step is the same type of chemical reaction. Since in this polymerisation reaction the polymer is formed in a stepwise manner. It is called step growth polymer and the process is called step growth polymerisation. The process for two monomer A and B may be expressed as.


A + B  ¾¾Con¾den¾se ® AB ;

AB + A ¾¾Con¾den¾se ® ABA ;

A B A + B ¾¾® A B A B






Alternatively, step growth can proceed as


A + B ® A B ;

A B + A B ® A B A B or (A B)2 ;


ABAB + ABAB ¾¾Poly¾m¾er ®(AB)n

Some common examples of step growth polymers are



Polymers Monomers
Nylon-66 Hexamethylenediamine and adipic
Bakelite Phenol and formaldehyde
Dacron (polyester) Terephthalic      acid     and     ethylene






It is a polymer which is capable of returning to its original length, shape or size after being stretched or deformed. It is the example of elastomer. Rubber are of two types.

(1) Natural rubber                    (2) Synthetic rubber

  • Natural rubber : It is obtained as latex from rubber trees found in tropical and semitropical countries like India (south), Malaysia, Indonesia, Ceylon, South America latex is a colloidal suspension of rubber in water. The latex is coagulated with acetic acid or formic acid. The coagulated mass is then squeezed.

The raw natural rubber is a soft gummy and sticky mass. It is insoluble in water, dil. Acids and alkalies but soluble in benzene, chloroform, ether, petrol and carbon disulphide. It absorb a large amount of water. It has low elasticity and tensile strength.

Destructive distillation of natural rubber gives mainly isoprene (2-methyl butadiene).

Thus isoprene is a monomer of natural rubber the no. of isoprene unit are 11,000 to 20,000 which linked together in a chain.

CH3                                                       é              CH3                           ù




=    – CH = CH


ê               |


= CHCH   


2    C                          2 ¾¾¾¾ ¾® ê-      2      C                         2     ú



ê                                        ú


ë                                        û n

Natural rubber


Note : ® It may be noted that natural rubber is cis-1,4-polyisoprene and has all cis configuration about the double bond as shown below


CH3                 H

C = C                     CH2

~ H2C                            CH2




C = C





C = C



CH2 ~


All cis configuration

There are weak Vander Waal forces and therefore, it is elastic and non-crystalline. However, its trans configuration has highly regular zig-zags which fit together well. The all trans configuration occurs naturally as gutta percha, which is highly crystalline and non-elastic because of packing of chains. Extended chains of natural rubber and gutta percha are shown :



All cis configuration in natural rubber



All trans configuration in gutta percha

  • Synthetic rubber : The synthetic rubber is obtained by polymerising certain organic compounds which may have properties similar to rubber and some desirable Most of these are derived from butadiene derivatives and contain carbon-carbon double bonds. The synthetic rubbers are either homopolymers of 1, 3 butadiene or copolymer in which one of the monomers is 1, 3 butadiene or its derivative so that the polymer has




the availability of double bonds for its vulcanization. Some important examples are Neoprene, styrene, butadiene rubber (SBR) thiokol, silicones, polyurethane, rubber etc.

Vulcanization of rubber : The process of heating natural rubber with sulphur to improve its properties is called vulcanization. Vulcanization was introduced by Charles Goodyear.

Although natural rubber is thermoplastic substance in which there are no cross link between the polymer chain and it on vulcanization set into a given shape which is retained.

The vulcanization process performed originally was slow. Now a days, some additives such as zinc oxide etc. are used to accelerate the rate of vulcanization. During vulcanization, sulphur cross links are formed (figure) the double bonds in the


rubber molecule acts as reactive sites. The allylic – CH 2

, alpha to double bond is


also very reactive. During vulcanization, suphur forms cross links at these reactive sites. As a result, rubber gets stiffened and intermolecular movement of rubber springs is prevented resulting in physical character of rubber. The extent of stiffness of vulcanized rubber depend upon the amount of sulphur added. For example about 5% sulphur is used for making tyre rubber while 30% of the sulphur is used for making battery case rubber.

In a polymer, the chains are normally tangled up with each other. When the rubber is stretched, the chains straighten out to some extent. The chains cannot slip past each other because of the polysulphide bridges. Thus, rubber can be stretched

only to a limited extent. When the tension is removed, the chains try to coil up again and the rubber resumes its

original shape.


CH3                 H

C = C                     CH2

~CH2                CH2



C = C


Natural rubber



C = C

H CH2~


All cis configuration

The comparison of the main properties of natural rubber and vulcanized rubber are given below




  • Rubber : Are as under all are addition
Rubber                                       Monomers Formula Application
(i)                                                                                CH2 = CCH = CH2

Neoprene                         |

rubber                              Cl




(ii)         Styrene       CH 2  = CH CH = CH 2  and  CH = CH2

Butadiene                      Butadiene (75%)

Rubber (SBR) or

Buna-S                                                                       Styrene (25%)


(iii)                       Butyl                     CH3

rubber                CH   = |                                                          and

2    C



Isobutylene (98 %)

CH2 = CCH = CH2



Isoprene (2- 3 %)

(iv)         Nitrile         CH 2  = CH CH  = CH 2                            and rubber or                        Butadiene (75%)

Buna N or           CH 2 = CH – CN

GRA                          Acrylonitrile (25%)

(v)                                       Cl CH 2CH 2Cl

Polysulphi                 Ethylene dichloride de           rubber    and          Na 2S4 (Thiokol)                     Sodium polysulphide



(vi)                                                                                                       CH3

Silicone                     |

rubber                Cl Si CH 3




(vii)                                    HOCH 2 – CH 2 OH

Polyuretha                 Ethylene glycol

ne rubber                   O


and C = N CH = CH N = C = O

Ethylene di-isocyanate

æ                                                   ö

ç                                                   ÷

ç- CH 2C = CH CH 2

ç                  |                               ÷

è                   Cl                            ø n


æ- CH2 – CH CH – CH2 – CH – CH2 -ö

ç                                                                               ÷

ç                                                                               ÷

ç                                                                               ÷

è                                                                               øn



æ                  CH3                          CH3            ö

ç                   |                                |                 ÷

ç- CH 2 – C = CHCH 2 – CCH 2 -÷

ç                                                    |                 ÷

ç                                                   CH3            ÷

è                                                                      ø n




æ                                                                                ö

ç- CH    CHCH    CH = CH CH    

ç           2      |                2                                    2     ÷

ç                                                                                ÷

è                  CN                                                        ø n


(-CH 2 – CH 2 – S S S S-)n





æ            CH3 ö

ç             |      ÷

ç- O Si – ÷

ç             |       ÷

ç            CH3 ÷

è                     ø n

Making automobile, refrigerator parts and electric wire.

Making of tyre and other mechanical rubber goods.

Making of toys, tyre, tube etc.





Used             for make of fuel tank.


Used in the manufacture of hoses and tank lining, engine gasket and rocket fuel. Silicon rubber



In the manufacture of fibre.

Paints and

heat insulator.

(2)  Plastics and resin

Name of polymer Abbreviat- ion Starting materials Nature of polymer Properties Applications
(i) Polyolefines
(a) Polyethylene or HDPE CH 2  = CH 2 Low density Transparent, Packing material





polyethene                          (High density polyethen e)





(Low density polyethen e)






 CH 2 = CH 2

homopolyme r (branched) chain growth.




High density homopolyme r (linear) chain growth.

moderate tensile strength, high toughness.




Transluscent, chemically inert, greater tensile strength, toughness.

carry bags, insulation for electrical wires and cables.

Buckets, tubs, house ware, pipes, bottles and toys.


  • Polypropylene or PP polypropene

 CH 3CH = CH 2

Homopolyme r, linear, chain growth.

Harder and stronger than polyethene.

Packing   of textiles and foods, liners for bags, heat shrinkage wraps, carpet fibres, ropes, automobile mouldings, stronger pipes and bottles.


  • Polystyrene or Styron





CH 2 = CH Cl

Vinyl chloride

  • Polyhaloolefines

 C6 HCH  = CH 2

Homopolyme r, linear, chain growth

Transparent         Plastic toys,

house hold wares, radio and television bodies, refrigerator linings.


(a) Polyvinyl chloride


Homopolyme r chains growth

Thermoplasti c

(i) Plasticised with high boiling esters PVC used in rain coats, hand bags, shower curtains, fabrics, shoe soles, vinyl flooring (ii) Good electrical insulator (iii) Hose pipes.





(b) Polytetrafluoroet- hylene or Teflon






(c) Polymonochlorotri- fluroroethylene






  • Formaladehyde resins
  • Phenol formaldehyde resin or Bakelite













  • Melamine formaldehyde resin





CH 2 = CC OOCH 3

  • Polyacrylates











 F2 C = CF2







 ClFC = CF2









Phenol and formaldehyde














Melamine and formaldehyde

Homopolyme r, high melting point





Homopolyme r









Copolymer, step growth














Copolymer, step growth

Flexible and inert to solvents boiling acids even aqua regia. Stable upto 598 K.


Less resistant to heat and chemicals due to presence of chlorine atoms.



Thermosettin g polymer, hard and brittle












Thermosettin g polymer, hard but not so breakable.

  • For nonstick utensiles coating
  • Making gaskets, pump packings valves, seals, non lubricated

Similar to those of teflon.









  • With low degree polymerisation as bindings glue for wood varnishes,
  • With high degree polymerisation for combs, for mica table tops, fountain pen barrels electrical goods (switches and plugs).

Non-breakable crockery.


(a) Polymethacrylate (lucite, acrylite and plexiglass and perspex)


Copolymer            Hard transparent, excellent light transmission, optical

Lenses  light covers lights, shades signboards transparent domes skylight aircraft window,












(3)  Fibre




 CH 2 = CH COOC2 H5

clarity better than glass takes up colours.

Copolymer            Tough, rubber like product

dentures and plastic jewellery.


(i) Polysters
(a) Terylene or PET                        HOCH 2CH 2OH

(Polyethylen       Ethylene glycol or Ethane -1, 2-diol

e                              and  O                    O

terephthalat                 ||                     ||

e)                          HO – C                     C – OH

Terephthalic acid



Ethylene glycol

and                      COOH

Phthalic acid COOH





O                O

||                ||

HO C[CH 2 ]4 COH

Adipic acid

and H 2 N – [CH 2 ]6 – NH 2



H 2 N – [CH2 ]6 – NH 2

Hexamethyllene diamine


and  HOOC[CH 2 ]8 COOH

Sebacic acid










N      O


Caprolactum or

H2N – [CH2]5COOH

Î-Aminocaproic acid

Copolymer, Fibre crease For  wash   and
Dacron step               growth resistant, low wear                 fabrics,
  linear moisture tyre cords seat
  condensation absorption, belts and salts.
  polymer not damaged  
    by pests like  
    moths etc.  
(b) Glyptal or Copolymer, Thermoplasti Paints and
alkyl resin linear step c, dissolves in lacqures.
  growth suitable  
  condensation solvents                       and  
  polymer solutions                         on  
    leaves a tough  
    but                        not  
    flexible film.  
(ii) Polyamides      
(a) Nylon-66 Copolymer, Thermoplasti Textile fabrics,
  linear, step c high tensile bristles for
  growth strength brushes etc.
  condensation abrasion  
  polymer resistant.  
(b) Nylon-610 Copolymer, Thermoplasti (i) Textile
  linear, step c, high tensile fabrics,
  growth strength, carpets,
    abrasion bristles for
    resistant brushes etc.
      (ii) Substitute
      of metals in
      (iii)                     Gears
      elastic hosiery.
(c) Nylon-6 or Homopolyme Thermoplasti Mountaineerin
Perlon r, linear c high tensile g ropes, tyre
    strength cords, fabrics.




Note : ® Copolymer of acrylonitrile (40%) and vinyl chloride (60%) is called dynel it is used in hair wigs.

  • Artificial silk is the term given to fibres derived from cellulose. The most important process for the production of artificial silk is viscose process. The difference between natural and artificial silk is natural silk contain nitrogen while artificial silk may not have Natural silk on burning gives a smell of burning hair and shrinks into a ball of cinder while artificial silk gives a thread of ash.

These are the polymers which are degraded by micro-organisms within a suitable period so that biodegradable polymers and their degraded products do not cause any serious affects on the environment.

In biological systems, biopolymers degrade mainly by enzymatic hydrolysis and to some extent by oxidation. Therefore, in view of the disposal problems of polymer waste and for developing polymers for other safe uses in human systems, attempts have been made to develop biodegradable synthetic polymers. These synthetic polymers mostly have functional groups which are normally present in biopolymers and lipids.

Among these aliphatic polyesters are one important class of biodegradable polymers which are commercially potential biomaterials. The common examples of biodegradable polymers are polyhydroxy butyrate (PHB), polyhydroxy butyrate –co-bhydroxy valerate (PHBV), polyglycolic acid (PGA), polylactic acid (PLA), poly (Î- caprolactone) (PCL), etc.

Uses : Biodegradable polymers are used mainly for medical goods such as surgical sutures, tissue in growth materials or for controlled drug release devices, plasma substitutes etc. The decomposition reactions usually involve hydrolysis (either enzymatically induced or by non-enzymatic mechanisms) to non-toxic small molecules which can be metabolized by or excreted from the body. These are also finding use in agriculture materials (such as films, seed coatings), fast food wrappers, personal hygiene products, etc.

(i)  Polyhydroxy butyrate (PHB)

Polyhydroxy butyrate (PHB) is obtained from hydroxy butyric acid (3-hydroxy butanoic acid)


O                                        ì

||                Condensation       ï

O  ü

||  ï



HOCHCH 2 COH ¾¾¾¾¾® í- O CHCH 2 C




ï          CH3               ï


3-Hydroxy butanoic acid

Polyhydroxybutyrate (PHB)


  • Poly-Hydroxybutyrate-co-b-Hydroxy valerate (PHBV) : It is copolymer of 3-hydroxy butanoic acid and 3-hydroxy pentanoic acid, in which the monomer units are joined by ester








  • CH  CH CH
  • COOH





CO -÷ ,


3       |                 2


3             2       |                 2


® ç-

ç          |

è          R

2      ||         ÷

O        øn


3-Hydroxy butanoic acid


R = CH3 , C2 H5

3-Hydroxy pentanoic acid



The properties of PHBV vary according to the ratio of both the acids. 3-Hydroxy butanoic acid provides stiffness while 3-Hydroxypentanoic acid gives flexibility to the copolymer.

  • Polyglycolic acid (PGA) : Polyglycolic acid (PGA) is obtained by the chain polymerisation of cyclic

dimer of glycolic acid, HO CH 2COOH .

æ              O ö



  • Heat

||  ÷



CH2COOH ¾¾¾®ç – OCH2 C


Glycolic acid

ç                   ÷

è                   øn


Polyglycolic acid (PGA)

  • Polylactic acid (PLA) : Polylactic acid (PLA) is obtained by polymerisation of the cyclic dimer of lactic


acid (HO CH(CH3 )COOH)

or by microbiological synthesis of lactic acid followed by the polycondensation and


removal of water by evaporation.



æ               O  ö

ç                ||   ÷



HOCHC– OH ¾¾Con¾den¾sati¾on ® ç- OCH – C





è      CH3           øn


Lactic acid

Polylactic acid (PLA)


  • Poly (Î-caprolactone) (PCL) : It is obtained by chain polymerisation of the lactone of 6-hydroxy hexanoic

æ                         O  ö

ç                         ||  ÷

ç- O – (CH 2 )2 – C

ç                              ÷

è                              øn


Uses : PGA and PLA (90 : 10) is used to make absorbable structure to close an internal of external wound and has replaced cat gut these are completely degraded and absorbed by the body within 15 days to one month of the surgery.

Polyhydroxybutyrate (PHB) and (PHBV) have been used for making films for packaging and into moulded items.

A polymer sample contains chain of varying lengths and therefore its molecular mass is always expressed as an average on the other hand natural polymer such as proteins contain chain of identical length and therefore they have definite molecular mass.

The molecular mass of a polymer can be expressed in two ways.

  • Number average molecular mass (M N ) (2) Weight average molecular mass (MW ) .





(1)   Number average molecular mass

(M N )

: If

N1 , N 2 , N 3 ….. are the number of molecules with


molecular masses



M1 , M 2 , M 3 …… respectively, then the number average molecular mass is


N1 M1 + N 2 M 2 + N 3 M 3 + …


N1 + N 2 + N 3 …



This may be expressed as : MN

= å Ni Mi

å N





Ni is the number of molecules of the ith type with molecular mass Mi .


(2)  Weight average molecular mass

(MW )

: If

m1 , m2 , m3 …. are the masses of species with molecular



M1 , M 2 , M 3 ….. respectively, then the weight average molecular mass is



M      m1 M1 + m2 M 2 + m3 M 3 …. or M   = å mi Mi



m1 + m2

  • m3

+ …

W          å m




mi   = Ni Mi , so that MW

= å Ni M 2


å Ni Mi



Ni is the number of molecules of mass

Mi .


Note : ® Polydispersity index : The ratio of mass average molecular mass to the number average molecular mass is called polydispersity index, PDI.



This gives an idea about the homogeneity of a polymer.

  • The polymers whose molecules have nearly same molecular masses are called monodisperse



polymers. For these molecules, MW

= M N

and therefore, PDI is one.


  • The polymers whose molecules have wide range of molecular masses are called polydisperse



polymers. For these polymers, MW

  • MN

and therefore, their PDI is greater than one.


Thus, it may be concluded that in general, natural polymers are more homogeneous than synthetic polymers.

For natural polymers, PDI is usually unity and therefore, natural polymers are monodisperse.



For synthetic polymers, the PDI is greater than one and therefore MW

is always greater than

MN .



M N    is always determined by employing methods which depend upon the number of molecules

present in the polymer sample. For example, colligative property such as osmotic pressure is used. On the other hand, weight average molecular mass is measured by using the methods such as light scattering and ultracentrifugation, sedimentation, etc. which depend upon the mass of individual molecules.

Example: 1          In a polymer sample 30% molecules have a molecular mass 20,000 40% have molecular mass 30,000 and rest have 60,000. Calculate mass average and number average molecular masses ?




Solution :          The polymer contains 30% molecules of mass 20,000 40% molecules of molecular mass 30,000 and rest 30% of molecular mass 60,000. Thus



M      = å Ni Mi

å Ni

å Ni M 2

(20 ´ 20000) + (40 ´ 30000) + (30 ´ 60000) = 3600

30 + 40 + 30

30(20,000)2 + 40(30000)2 + 30(60000)2


MW =


å Ni Mi

30 ´ 20000 + 40 ´ 30000 + 30 ´ 60000

= 43333


  • Polymer in increasing order of their intermolecular forces are polythene < Buna S < Nylon-66.
  • We always use purest monomer in free radical polymerisation reaction because the impurities can act as chain transfer agent and may combine with the free radical to slow down the reaction or even stop the
  • Benzoquinone inhibit the free radical polymerisation of vinyl derivative because it combine with free radical intermediate to form a non reactive radical which is highly stabilized by resonance because of the lack of reactivity of the new radical formed, it inhibit the further progress of the chain Therefore the reaction stops.




Free radical         +

OR                            OR



OR                          OR                         OR






Resonance stabilized

O·                       O                              O                            O



  • A thin film of polyester is known as Mylar
  • PET plastic commonly used for soft drink bottles, transparent jars and bottles for use in kitchen are made up of polyethylene terephthalate, chemically same as terylerte – a
  • Glyptal resins or Alkyl resins obtained from ethylene glycol and phthalic acid are However, resins obtained from glycerol and phthalic acid are thermosetting polymers, due to the formation of cross-links by the third –OH group present in glycerol.
  • Thermosetting plastics are also called heat setting plastics whereas thermoplastics are called cold setting
  • Latex is a colloidal dispersion of rubber in It is not a colloidal solution of isoprene in water or any other solvent.
  • Polymerisation of isoprene by free radical mechanism (in the presence of Na and heat) gives a product which is different from natural rubber (Natural rubber is a polymer of isoprene). The synthetic product so obtained is a mixture of cis and trans configurations and resembled Gutta percha. Gutta percha is a naturally occurring polymer in It is all trans-stereoisomer and is non-elastic.
  • Terylene is a British name of Dacron.
  • Co-polymer of vinyl chloride 90% and vinyl acetate 10% is called VINYON.
  • Co-polymer of acrylonitrile 40% and vinyl chloride 60% is called DYNEL.
  • Co-polymer of vinyl chloride and vinyledene chloride is called SARAN.
  • Plasticizers cannot convert a thermosetting polymer into thermoplastic It converts a hard and brittle plastic into soft and easily pliable one at room temperature.
  • Free radical polymerisation of isoprene do not give Gutta percha (Gutta percha is a natural polymer). The synthetic product so obtained resembles Gutta




  • Co-ordination polymerisation of isoprene gives a product similar to natural
  • Latex is not a colloidal dispersion of isoprene in
  • Thermocol is polystyrene foamed with vapour of
  • Cups used for hot drinks are made up of polystyrene. It does not become soft like other plastics at temperatures near boiling point of
  • A major development of co-ordination polymerisation is stereochemical control. Propene, for example, could polymerise to any of the three different Isotactic : with all methyl groups on one side of an extended chain. Syndiotactic : with methyl groups alternating regularly from side to side. Atactic : with methyl groups distributed at random. By proper choice of experimental conditions, i.e., temperature, pressure and catalyst, each of these stereoisomeric propylene has been made.
  • Addition polymers, generally, have only carbon atoms in their main chain. On the other hand, condensation polymers, generally, have atoms other than carbon atoms, in their main
  • Polyurethanes : Polyurethanes are polymers obtained by the polymerisation of a

It is used for heat and sound insulation in the form of polyurethane foam. Mattresses, cushions and pillows made out of polyurethane foam are washable and long lasting.






A urethane


  • Epoxy resins : These are obtained by copolymerisation of epichlorohydrin and bisphenol-A. These resins have good adhesive strength. These are used for making adhesives (Araldite, M-seal etc.) for making glass reinforced plastic (fibre glass), for lamination, to impart crease resistance and shrinkage control to cotton, rayon and for making anti-skid surface for
  • Polycarbonates : These are obtained by copolymerisation of diphenyl carbonate and bisphenol-A. It has very high optical transparency, high impact strength over wide range of It is used for making bullet- proof glass, baby-feed bottles, fridge containers, mixi jars etc.
  • Thermoplastics are also called cold setting polymers. They are moulded when hot but set into the required shape only on cooling. Thermosetting polymers are also called heat setting polymers. Such polymers are supplied in the partially polymerised form. When put in a mould and heated they set into the required shape. They do not require any cooling for
  • On long exposure to air and sun-light thermo-plastics becomes brittle. It is due to the evaporation of plasticizer with time. The faint smell associated with various thermoplastics is due to slow evaporation of this
  • High density polyethene is a linear polymer. Carry bags made out of it are not so soft and make a crackling sound when crushed in hands. You can easily tear them in one direction, but not at right angle to it. Plastic twine is made out of such a polymer. They have very high tensile strength in one direction (along the polymer chain) and a low tensile strength at right angle to Such carry bags are used to carry clothes, note-books




etc. Carry bags made of low density polyethene are soft, make no noise when crushed with hands, have same tensile strength in all directions. Such carry bags are used to carry heavy objects (vegetables, fruits etc.)

  • Kevlar is a nylon-polymer and is obtained by condensation copolymerization of terephthalic acid with 1, 4-diaminobenzene (p-phenylenediamine). The fibres of this polymer are so strong that they are used to make bullet-proof
  • Lexan is a polycarbonate(polyester) and is prepared by condensation copolymerization of diethyl carbonate and bisphenol A. It has unusually high impact strength and hence is used in making bullet-proof windows and safety or crash
  • Nomex is a polyamide made from m-phthalic acid and m-diaminobenzene. It is known for its fire- resistant properties and is used in protective clothing for firefighters, astronauts and race car
  • Ebonite is high sulphur (20-30 %S) rubber and is obtained by vulcanization of natural
  • Rayon was originally called artificial silk but now the name rayon is given to all fibres obtained by chemical treatment of Thus, artificial silk is polysaccharide, i.e., cellulose derivative.

Stereochemical arrangement of polymers

  • Isotactic (Same order) : When groups are arranged on one side of the chain. All y group e. on one side and all Z groups on the opposite side of the chain.
  • Y Y



  • Z Z
  • Syndiotactic (Alternating order) : The Y and Z groups lie alternately on each side of the
  • Z Y



  • Y Z


  • Atactic (Random order) : The Y and Z groups are arranged in a random
  • Z Z



  • Z Y
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