Polymerization reactions are widely investigated and have led to high-value, high-performance engineered materials that are in our homes, automobiles and even our bodies. For these polymers, a thorough understanding of polymerization reactions and control of all reaction variables is crucial to producing a material that meets the end-use requirements and specifications.
Polymers are macromolecules that consist of smaller repeating monomeric sub-segments that are linked together to form chains. Polymers that exist in nature, such as polypeptides and polysaccharides, are critical components of living organisms. Synthetic polymers, such as nylon and polyurethane, have transformed how we manufacture and use commercial products. These latter polymers are typically formed by adding monomer segments together via free radical addition processes, or through linking the segments together by condensation reactions that produce the polymer along with water or another small molecule.