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Differences Between a Monomer and a Polymer

Monomer vs Polymer

In chemistry classes, we are always taught the basics first – the atoms and molecules. Do you remember that atoms and molecules can be classified as monomers or polymers? In this article, we will be tackling the differences between a monomer and a polymer. There are only little differences that exist between a monomer and a polymer. For a quick overview, a monomer is made up of atoms and molecules. When monomers combine, they can form a polymer. In other words, a polymer  consists of monomers which are bound together.

“Monomer” comes from the Greek word “monomeros.” “Mono” means “one” while “meros” means “parts.” The Greek word “monomeros” literally means “one part.” For monomers to become polymers, they undergo a process called polymerization. The process of polymerization makes the monomers  bond together. An example of a monomer is a glucose molecule. However, when several glucose molecules bond together, they become starch, and starch is already a polymer.

Other examples of monomers come about naturally. Aside from the glucose molecule, the amino acids are other examples of monomers. When the amino acids undergo the process of polymerization, they can turn into protein, which is a polymer. In the nucleus of our cells, we can also find monomers which are the nucleotides. When nucleotides undergo the process of polymerization, they become nucleic acid polymers. These nucleic acid polymers are important DNA components. Another natural monomer is isoprene, and it can polymerize into polyisoprene which is a natural rubber. Since the monomers have the ability to bond molecules together, chemists and scientists can discover new chemical compounds which can be useful for society.

We have mentioned earlier that a polymer consists of several monomers combined. A polymer is less mobile than a monomer because of its larger load of combined molecules. The more molecules combined, the heavier the polymer would be. A good example would be ethane gas. At room temperature, it can travel anywhere because of its light composition. However, if the molecular composition of ethane gas is doubled, it will become butane. Butane comes in the form of a liquid so it will not have the same freedom of movement unlike the ethane gas. If you add up another group of molecules to the butane fuel, we can have paraffin which is a waxy substance. As we add more molecules to a polymer, the more solid it becomes.

When polymers become solid enough, they have several applications in industries like the automobile industry, sports industry, manufacturing industry, and others. For example, polymers can be used as adhesives, foams, and coatings. We can also find polymers in several electronic devices and optical devices. Polymers are also useful in agricultural settings. Since polymers are composed of several chemical compounds, they can be used as fertilizers in order to stimulate plant growth better.

Since monomers continuously combine to form polymers, there are endless uses of polymers in our society. With the formed chemicals and materials, we can discover and develop more usable materials.

Summary:

  1. A monomer is made up of atoms and molecules. When monomers combine, they can form a polymer.

  2. A polymer consists of monomers which are bound together.

  3. The process of polymerization makes the monomers bond together.

  4. Examples of monomers are glucose molecules. If they undergo the process of polymerization, they become starch, which are polymers.

  5. A polymer is less mobile than a monomer because of its larger load of combined molecules. The more molecules combined, the heavier the polymer would be.

  6. And as we add more molecules to a polymer, the more solid it becomes.


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