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Day 26: Polymers. Review: Polymers vs. Metals Strength factors: What factors make polymers strong? Crystallinity Increase the chain length Here’s another one: Decrease chain flexibility. I.e. make the backbone more rigid. Here’s an example. Another Common Polymer: PolyStyrene.

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Day 26 polymers
Day 26: Polymers

  • Review: Polymers vs. Metals

  • Strength factors: What factors make polymers strong?

  • Crystallinity

  • Increase the chain length

  • Here’s another one:

  • Decrease chain flexibility. I.e. make the backbone more rigid. Here’s an example.


Another common polymer polystyrene
Another Common Polymer: PolyStyrene

  • Basic Mer

The second most commonly encountered polymer. This is a hard, yet cheap commodity plastic. Yes, it can be foamed.

This is a thermoplastic polymer.

Phenyl group


Uses of ps
Uses of PS

  • Cheap, hard commodity plastic. Or foam.


Why ps is stronger and less ductile than pe
Why PS is stronger and less ductile than PE

  • Crystallinity is less. The bulky side groups interfere with the formation of cystals.

  • BUT

  • The difference is that the backbone is much more rigid. The backbone can’t rotate as easily because of the phenyl groups. Consequently sliding of adjacent chains is inhibited. Strength is increased at the cost of ductility.



Tacticity actually there are three
Tacticity, actually there are three


Some properties of a syndiotactic ps
Some Properties of a Syndiotactic PS

  • Density: 1.11 g/cc

  • UTS: 10.5 Ksi

  • %EL 1.8%

  • Modulus of Elasticity: 700 Ksi

  • Just a few remarks about the difference:

  • Bulky side groups such as phenyl inhibit crystallinity.

  • Sydndiotactic, ie regular placement on alt. sides promotes crystallinity.

  • Crystallinity enhances strength and stiffness.


Improved ps high impact ps hips
Improved PS – High Impact PS (HIPS)

  • We form what is called a “graft copolymer.” This is kind of like an alloy.

Polybutadiene rubber chain

HIPS is strong and tough!!

Atactic polystyrene


Polypropylene pp
Polypropylene, PP

  • Here’s another simple mer. Look’s kind of like PS except that instead of a phenyl side group, we have a methyl side group.

Side group is not as bulky as the one in PS.


Crystallinity and pp
Crystallinity and PP

  • We have either considerable crystallinity or none depending on tacticity.

Regular side group placement: up to 60% crystallinity

Irregular side group placement: amorphous


Pp fibers
PP Fibers

  • The isotactic form, which has high crystallinity, can be turned into fiber. The crystallinity is associated with chain alignment in the longitudinal direction of the fiber.

Though PE is more crystalline, it is easier to get PP to form these fibers. Yes, PE fibers are great. (Spectra) But not as economically viable as PP fibers. Nylon, which will be discussed soon is well known for forming fibers.

Lots of PP fiber used in clothing. I.e. mountain climbing thermal underwear.


Pp advantages
PP Advantages

  • Easy to color

  • Dishwasher safe, compared to PE.

  • High strength to weight

  • Doesn’t absorb water readily

  • Can be readily used as a plastic as well as a fiber. See specimens.


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