(The prefix macro comes from the Greek and means “large” or “long.”) Polymers, including natural proteins (such as DNA) and artificial materials (such as nylon and polyester), are examples of macromolecules. Manufactured polymers include nylon, polyvinyl chloride (better known as PVC) and many types of plastics. The silicone rubber tips on your phone’s earbuds. Just look around. Due to their broad spectrum of properties, both synthetic and natural polymers play essential and ubiquitous roles in everyday life. Substances that provide the energy and raw materials the body need to grow, repair worn parts, and function properly. Depending on their size, animals are made of anywhere from thousands to trillions of cells. A polymer. The raw ingredients consist primarily of chlorine and carbon. More often, chemists create polymers from compounds made in the lab. Natural polymers were used for their chemical properties long before they were understood in the chemistry laboratory: Wool, leather, and flax were processed into fibers to make clothing; animal bone was boiled down to make glues. Polymers are both found in nature and manufactured in laboratories. Its chemical formula is H2O. A chemical bond is what holds atoms together in a molecule and some crystals. starch A soft white chemical made by all green plants. Sorry, your blog cannot share posts by e-mail. Polymers, whether artificial (such as the plastic shown) or natural, are made of repeating chains of smaller chemical units. lubricant A substance used to cut friction between surfaces that are in contact with one another. element (in chemistry) Each of more than one hundred substances for which the smallest unit of each is a single atom. Its scientific symbol is N. Nitrogen is released in the form of nitrogen oxides as fossil fuels burn. atom The basic unit of a chemical element. silicon A nonmetal, semiconducting element used in making electronic circuits. It is the physical basis of all life on Earth. It is an important part of coal, limestone and petroleum, and is capable of self-bonding, chemically, to form an enormous number of chemically, biologically and commercially important molecules. All rights reserved. 5 What is the PDQ? © Society for Science & the Public 2000–2020. Here, carbon atoms are shown as black, oxygen as red and hydrogen as white. The mineral crystals that make up rock are usually too small to be seen with the unaided eye. 4 What is a scanning electron microscope? Even the DNA in your cells is a polymer. DNA, life’s storehouse of genetic information, is a lengthy molecule made from a series of smaller, repeating chemical units. Junk foods can harm a teen’s brain, Surprising long-haul dust and tar are melting high glaciers, Jumping ‘snake worms’ are invading U.S. forests, Polluting microplastics harm both animals and ecosystems, There’s water on sunny parts of the moon, scientists confirm, This artificial skin feels ‘ghosts’ — things you wish were there, Clear, stretchy sensor could lead to wearable electronics, Ordinary paper turns into flexible human-powered keypad, 2020 chemistry Nobel goes for CRISPR, the gene-editing tool, Study acid-base chemistry with at-home volcanoes, New solution for carbon dioxide: Turn it into ‘green’ fuel, Build ice towers with bottled water and ice. 4. The plastic can be soft and flexible or rigid and hard. Viscosity corresponds to the idea of how “thick” a liquid is. As many polymers age, they may lose plasticizers to the environment. Once oxygen forms two bonds, it ibecomes stable. Now the crystals are gone and the solution is a fully dispersed mix of the liquid form of the sugar or salt in water.). Dr. Helmenstine holds a Ph.D. in biomedical sciences and is a science writer, educator, and consultant. None are left to hold a pendant group. Biological Polymers: Proteins, Carbohydrates, Lipids, Fabrics - The History of Fabrics and Different Fibers, A Brief History of the Invention of Plastics, Ph.D., Biomedical Sciences, University of Tennessee at Knoxville, B.A., Physics and Mathematics, Hastings College, Proteins, such as hair, nails, tortoiseshell, Starches in plants such as potatoes and maize, Natural rubber and lacquer (proteins from trees), Nylon, polyester, rayon (manufactured forms of silk), Polyethylene (plastic bags and storage containers), Polystyrene (packing peanuts and Styrofoam cups). Since many atoms that are part of a polymer’s backbone generally have at least one pendent group, the elements that typically appear in the polymer chain are ones that become stable with four bonds, such as carbon and silicon. Sid Perkins is an award-winning science writer who lives in Crossville, Tenn., with his wife, two dogs and three cats. Polymers are substances of high molecular weight made up of repeating monomer units.
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