What are polymers?

Polymers are macromolecules (i.e. large long-chain molecules), based on repeating units, with functional and structural properties.

They have been pervasively used by nature, with biopolymers (e.g. cellulose, DNA) accounting for more than half of all the organic carbon on the planet. Synthetic polymers include plastics (commodities like polyethylene, and engineering materials like nylon) and can be designed to provide a very wide range of properties, and to perform many demanding functions, including interacting with their environment and responding to physical and biological stimuli.

Polymers are a critical technology for manufacturing, not only because they are low cost, light weight and easy to fabricate into products, but also because they can be designed to deliver other enabling features. More than $9 billion worth of polymers and polymer-based products are used annually in Australia, and polymers are a core strength of both Australian manufacturing and science.

Polymer chain