|University Federico II
of Naples, Italy
Polymers are giant molecules (macromolecules) built up linking together chemically a large number of small molecules called monomers. Hundred, thousands or even more monomer molecules are bonded in a macromolecule by means of chemical reactions termed polymerisations. Chemistry is deeply involved both in the polymerisation processes and in the synthesis of monomers.
Life is based on natural polymers, such as nucleic acids, proteins and polysaccharides. Fibers, such as silk and wool, cellulose and natural rubber are also natural polymeric materials.
The first synthetic polymers appeared in the early 1900, but the development of a large number of polymeric materials of wide use occurred in the Thirties. The growth of the polymer industry has deeply changed our daily behaviour and radically altered the environment where we live.