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What is a Polymer?

Polymers are very large molecules (sometimes called macromolecules).
Each polymer molecule is a long chain of (mainly carbon) atoms.

Polymers are made from many smaller molecules, called monomers.
These monomers (the starting materials) are often alkenes.

The process (chemical reaction) that turns monomers into polymers
is called polymerisation. The conditions
used for polymerisation are heat, pressure and a catalyst.

Polymers produce a very wide range of materials with many uses.
New materials are often used to replace older ones because the
new material has superior properties. The properties of the material
depend on what the polymer is made from and its structure.

The general public know polymers as plastics. In science,
the word plastic refers to a specific type of deformation. A polymer
may show plasticity, or it may not. Call it a polymer, not a plastic.

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