By Gary Patterson Carnegie Mellon University

Polymer technological know-how is now an lively and thriving neighborhood of scientists, engineers and technologists, yet there has been a time, no longer see you later in the past, whilst there has been no such neighborhood. The prehistory of polymer technological know-how is helping to supply key insights into present matters and historic difficulties. the tale should be divided into an historic interval ( from Greek instances to the construction of the molecular consensus), a nascent interval (from Dalton to Kekule to van’t Hoff) and a interval of paradigm formation and controversy (from Staudinger to Mark to Carothers). The prehistory concludes with an account of the epochal 1935 dialogue of the Faraday Society on “Polymerization”. After this assembly an lively neighborhood engaged in attempting to clear up the critical difficulties outlined by way of the discussions.

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Dalton had the vision to see heteronuclear diatomic molecules. Berthelot only had the vision to see synthesized substances of unknown structure. Kekule could imagine molecules linked together by chemical bonds with multifunctional atoms. The general formula for the n-alkanes, CnH2n+2, follows from the tetrafunctionality of carbon. The carbons form the backbone of the chain molecule and the hydrogens fill out the functionality. Van’t Hoff had the vision to see the conformation of the molecule in three dimensions.

The concept of homologous series is one of the most powerful paradigms in polymer science. Haworth had the synoptic vision to encompass all the polysaccharides. There were differences in chain length, and differences in chain connectivity, but they were all carbohydrates. One of the most interesting aspects of the study of polymers as a function of chain length is the observation of crossover regions where the properties change qualitatively in addition to changing quantitatively. Low molecular weight n-alkane crystals are soft and often have several crystal forms.

Meyer KH, Mark H (1930) Der Aufbau der hochpolymeren organischen Naturstoffe. Akademische Verlagsgesellschaft, Leipzig 8. Mark H (1932) Physik and Chemie der Zellulose. Springer, Berlin 9. Semenov NN (1935) Chemical kinetics and chain reactions. Clarendon Press, Oxford Chapter 4 Musings on the Prehistory of Polymer Science The formation of a viable research paradigm requires many factors to be aligned. There needs to be a coherent collection of observable phenomena that requires the paradigm in order to comprehend the facts.

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