5 Major Difference Between Monomer And Polymer With Examples

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What Is A Monomer?

A monomer is a molecule that can be reacted together with other monomer molecules to form a larger polymer chain or three-dimension network in a process referred to as polymerization.  

There are two types of monomers, that is, those that react when exposed to radical generating materials (chain growth polymerization) and those that reacts when two different type of reactants are added in the proper ratio with the proper catalyst and temperature (condensation polymerization).

Examples of monomers that are found in many plastics include organic compounds like:

  • Ethylene
  • Propylene
  • Styrene
  • Phenol
  • Acetonitrile
  • Formaldehyde
  • Ethylene glycol
  • Vinyl chloride (which polymerizes into polyvinyl chloride, PVC)

What You Need To Know About Monomers

  • Monomers are small molecules which may be joined together in a repeating fashion to form more complex molecule referred to as polymers.
  • Monomers are simple molecules with low molecular weight.
  • A monomer can have different combination units.
  • Monomers are small molecules in the microscopic scale which cannot be compared to the macroscopic properties of polymers, and they are chemically more reactive than polymers.
  • A monomer is more mobile than a polymer.

Polymer

A polymer is a chemical composed of many repeat units. These repeat units can be composed of one monomer, two or more monomers or blocks of smaller polymers. Polymers normally have higher viscosities; higher boiling points and can show improved mechanical strength over monomers.

Polymers are found in a wide range of both consumer and industrial products. Some of the products with polymers include:

  • Nylons in textiles and fabrics
  • Teflon in non-stick pans
  • Polyvinyl chloride in PVC pipes
  • Tires
  • Electrical switches
  • Rubber
  • Styrofoam cups
  • Disposable PET bottles

What You Need To Know About Polymers

  • A polymer may be natural or synthetic macromolecules comprised of repeating units of a smaller molecules (monomers).
  • Polymers are complex molecules with very high molecular weight.
  • A polymer will always have a single repeating unit.
  • Polymers are macroscopic molecules which are stronger than monomers and are less susceptive towards chemicals.
  • A polymer is less mobile than a monomer because of its larger load of combined molecules.

Also Read: Difference Between Additional And Condensation Polymerization

Difference Between Monomer And Polymer In Tabular Form

BASIS OF COMPARISON MONOMER POLYMER
Description Monomers are small molecules which may be joined together in a repeating fashion to form more complex molecule referred to as polymers.   A polymer may be natural or synthetic macromolecules comprised of repeating units of a smaller molecules (monomers).  
Molecular Weight Monomers are simple molecules with low molecular weight.   Polymers are complex molecules with very high molecular weight.  
Units A monomer can have different combination units.   A polymer will always have a single repeating unit.  
Reactivity Monomers are small molecules in the microscopic scale which cannot be compared to the macroscopic properties of polymers, and they are chemically more reactive than polymers.   Polymers are macroscopic molecules which are stronger than monomers and are less susceptive towards chemicals.  
Mobile A monomer is more mobile than a polymer.   A polymer is less mobile than a monomer because of its larger load of combined molecules.