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Polymer

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Definition

noun, plural: polymers

(1) A compound made up of several repeating units (monomers) or protomers

(2) The product of polymerization


Supplement

Polymers are made from monomers linked by chemical bonds. They are produced by polymerization, and occur either naturally or synthetically. Examples of natural polymers are cellulose, shellac and amber. Biopolymers such as proteins and nucleic acids play crucial roles in biological processes. Common synthetic polymers are Bakelite, neoprene, nylon, PVC (polyvinyl chloride), polystyrene, polyacrylonitrile and PVB (polyvinyl butyral).

A polymer produced by a living organism is called a biopolymer. There are three major classes of biopolymers: (1) polysaccharides, (2) polypeptides, and (3) polynucleotides. Polysaccharides are carbohydrates formed by repeating units linked together by glycosidic bonds. Examples are cellulose, starch, or glycogen. Polypeptides are polymers of amino acids joined together by peptide bonds. Polynucleotides are biopolymers comprised of long, linear series of nucleotides joined together by ester linkages between the phosphoryl group of one nucleotide and the hydroxyl group of the sugar component of the next nucleotide.


Word origin: Greek polumerēs (consisting of many parts): polu-, poly- ("many") + meros ("part")

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