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Polymerization is a process of reacting monomer molecules together in a chemical reaction to form three-dimensional networks or polymer chains [1]. There are many forms of polymerization and different systems exist to categorize them.

The main categories are

Terminology in the literature to represent these types of polymerizations is not standard: there are multiple terms for the same type. For example, "step polymerization" and "step-growth polymerization" refer to the same type of polymerization.


Polymerization dates back to the beginning of DNA based life, as both DNA and proteins can be considered polymers. The first 'synthetic' polymers of the 19th century were actually formed by modifying natural polymers. For example nitrocellulose was manufactured by reacting cellulose with nitric acid. The first genuinely man-made polymer, the phenol-formaldehyde resin bakelite, was synthesized in 1872. However, research into polymers and polymerization only really accelerated in the 1930s after the serendipitous discovery of polyethene by the chemical company ICI.

See also[]

  • Plasma polymerization
  • Zieglar-Natta catalyst
  • Metallocene


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