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Molecular models of polythene and polyamide, 1985.

Molecular models of polythene and polyamide, 1985.
3 4 c m
actual image size: 32cm x 26cm


Both polythene (left) and polyamide (right) are examples of polymers, which are large molecules formed from chains of repeating simple molecular sub-units known as monomers. Polythene (polyethylene), for example, is a long chain of individual molecules of ethene (C2H4) joined together. Polymerisation occurs when monomers are subjected to conditions of heat and presure, usually in the presence of a catalyst. The majority of synthetic polymers are plastics. These models formed part of an interactive display at the Science Museum, London, demonstrating the difference in stiffnes between these two plastics.

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© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library

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