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!ennlfer k. Powell & !ennlfer lLL-Lalnsbury for www.Achemresources2014.weebly.

com, 2013 page 1 of 2 page


olymers ln A ChemlsLry

1he A ChemlsLry currlculum for 2014 has added polymers as an example of how lnLer- and
lnLramolecular bondlng lnfluence physlcal properLles of a subsLance. 1hls maLerlal shows up prlmarlly
under 8lg ldea 2: roperLles of MaLLer.
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olymers are Lhe class of molecules encompasslng mosL plasLlcs and many synLheLlc flbers llke
polyesLer, nylons, polyeLhylene, kevlar, polysLyrene eLc. olymers Lend Lo be sollds aL room
LemperaLure, and are ofLen sLrong and flexlble compared Lo oLher Lypes of sollds.
Cn Lhe molecular level, polymers are large, chaln-llke molecules wlLh hlgh molecular welghL. olymers
are formed Lhrough a reacLlon LhaL [olns many small molecules (called monomers) vla covalenL bonds.
1hese monomers Lyplcally conLaln alkenes, carboxylllc aclds, alcohols and/or amlne funcLlonal groups.
A polymer molecule ls so long LhaL lL wlll coll up on lLself, glvlng many slLes of van der Waals
lnLeracLlons ln a slngle chaln, or among dlfferenL chalns.

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AlLhough each lndlvldual van der Waals lnLeracLlon ls small ln magnlLude, Lhe sum of Lhese aLLracLlons
ls very large and glves a polymer lLs overall sLrengLh and durablllLy. SomeLlmes covalenL bondlng
beLween dlfferenL parLs of a polymer chaln can occur (called cross-llnklng), whlch lncreases Lhe rlgldlLy
of Lhe polymer. 1hls ls favourable for some appllcaLlons of polymers llke vulcanlzed rubber. lL should
also be noLed LhaL small changes ln Lhe sLrucLure of Lhe monomer could cause slgnlflcanL changes ln
Lhe physlcal properLles of Lhe polymer.
1here are naLurally occurrlng polymers as well, lncludlng proLelns (made from amlno acld monomers),
polysaccharldes (made from monosaccharlde monomers), and unA (made from nucleoLlde
monomers). 1hese blologlcal macromolecules conLaln many hydrogen bond donors and accepLors, and
Lherefore hydrogen bondlng plays a key role ln Lhe sLrucLure and properLles of blologlcal polymers.
!ennlfer k. Powell & !ennlfer lLL-Lalnsbury for www.Achemresources2014.weebly.com, 2013 page 2 of 2 page
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ln Lhe new A currlculum, polymers are dlscussed as an example of how bondlng and lnLermolecular
forces can affecL Lhe macroscoplc properLles of maLerlals. SLudenLs should be able Lo ldenLlfy Lhe Lypes
of lnLer- and lnLramolecular bondlng ln a polymer, and explaln how Lhe bondlng deLermlnes physlcal
properLles of Lhe polymer.
!""#$%&'( *$+,(#-.# /01023 Molecular sollds wlLh low molecular welghL usually have low melLlng polnLs and are noL
expecLed Lo conducL elecLrlclLy as sollds, ln soluLlon, or when molLen.
40 Molecular sollds are composed of dlsLlncL, lndlvldual unlLs of covalenLly bonded molecules aLLracLed Lo each
+Lher Lhrough relaLlvely weak lnLermolecular forces.
50 Molecular sollds are noL expecLed Lo conducL elecLrlclLy because Lhelr elecLrons are LlghLly held wlLhln Lhe
covalenL bonds of each consLlLuenL molecule.
/0 Molecular sollds generally have a low melLlng polnL because of Lhe relaLlvely weak lnLermolecular forces
6resenL beLween Lhe molecules.
70 Molecular sollds are someLlmes composed of very large molecules, or polymers, wlLh lmporLanL
8ommerclal and blologlcal appllcaLlons.
!""#$%&'( *$+,(#-.# 90107: noncovalenL and lnLermolecular lnLeracLlons play lmporLanL roles ln many blologlcal
and polymer sysLems.
40 1he funcLlonallLy and properLles of molecules depend sLrongly on Lhe shape of Lhe molecule, whlch ls largely
dlcLaLed by noncovalenL lnLeracLlons. lor example, Lhe funcLlon of enzymes ls dlcLaLed by Lhelr sLrucLure, and
properLles of synLheLlc polymers are modlfled by manlpulaLlng Lhelr chemlcal composlLlon and sLrucLure.


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