Vinyl polymer

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Vinyl polymer products (such as these records) come in many colors.

Vinyl polymers are a group of polymers derived from vinyl monomers. Their backbone is an extended alkane chain, made by polymerizing an alkene group (C=C) into a chain (..-C-C-C-C-..). In popular usage, "vinyl" refers only to polyvinyl chloride (PVC). Vinyl polymers are the most common type of plastic:

Vinyl polymers

While polymerized forms of other 1,2-substituated vinyl monomers are thermodynamically favorable, they are not generally able to polymerize due to steric hindrance. A notable exception to this was found1 with the monomer fumaronitrile, where polymerization occurs through an unconventional mechanism.

Fumaronitrile polymerization.

Vinyl polymers are produced catalytically; titanium-centered Ziegler-Natta catalyst is the main modern commercial catalyst.

A very thin film of monomer was prepared in a vacuum chamber on a tantalum substrate at -173°C and then photopolymerized. Due to the poor penetration depth of the radiation, thin polymer films with thickness several micrometres were obtained nevertheless with degree of polymerization in the 10,000 range. The polymerization is able to take place because the monomer molecules in the film are completely disorganized (isotropic) and therefore there is always a possibility for two monomers to react which they do not have in the crystalline phase.

References

  1. ^ Polymerization of "Unpolymerizable" Molecules through Topological Control Seth Washburn, Jochen Lauterbach, and Christopher M. Snively Macromolecules; 2006; 39(24) pp 8210 - 8212; (Communication to the Editor) doi: 10.1021/ma061724j

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