The Structure and Properties of Polymers
Common polymers are long chain molecules based on carbon. Like metals and ceramics, a single polymer molecule may contain millions of individual atoms, all bonded together. It is not possible to determine exactly how many carbon (C) and hydrogen (H) atoms are linked together in a single molecule of polyethylene ([CH
), for example, the average molecular weight is often on the order of 100,000 or more, indicating that there are approximately 8,000 carbon atoms and 16,000 hydrogen atoms in a single molecule of polyethylene. Properties are therefore related to the average molecular weight and vary from short chain waxes to long chain engineering materials.