The properties of a material depend on the arrangement of its particles. By modifying the arrangement of particles in a polymer, its properties can be changed.
Arrangement of Particles
The properties of solid materials depend on how the particles in these materials are arranged, and how they are held together. A solid melts when the forces between its particles are broken. This requires energy. The stronger the forces between the particles, the more energy is needed to break the particles out of the solid structure. The more energy that is needed, the higher the melting point of the solid.
Different polymers have different properties, depending on the small molecules they were made from. But the properties of a polymer can also be changed.
Many polymers, such as poly(ethene), contain long molecules that lie side by side. These can uncoil and slide past each other, making the material flexible. Long polymer chains have stronger forces of attraction than shorter ones. By making the chains of…