Polymers are large molecules that consist of a series of smaller building blocks. These building blocks are called monomers. A polymer is a chain of monomers linked to each other. Polymers are a central part of life as we know it. From cellulose that gives strength and structure to the plant to proteins that made up most of the animal bodies, polymers have so closely integrated into the way we live and function. However, the invention of the concept of polymers in the early 19th century entailing the related understanding of them that occurred throughout the 20th century has paved the way to use these materials in our daily lives in even more interesting ways. Particularly the establishment of the technologies that can manipulate these macromolecular objects have greatly prompted the development of polymer materials.
Today, artificially synthesized polymers have spread out to every aspect of our life. For instance, the paint of tables, computer keyboards, the insulating layer of electrical wires, tapes, the fabric of a backpack, the sole of shoes, food bags, beverage bottles, and the cushion on chairs. It’s hard to imagine what our life will be like without polymers.
Plastics and rubber materials are both made from these polymers. Usually, plastics are referred to as rigid or semi-rigid structures and formed by polymers that have restricted movement in a given state. Rubbers are known as elastomers. These are polymers with an elastic property and have an increased ability to move in a given structure and reverse back when force is applied.
The polymers themselves often do not have any desired properties when they are manufactured. Therefore, polymer materials are blended with certain chemicals called additives to create the desired properties in the final plastic or rubber products. This is where nanotechnology can be really useful. Nano additives can interact in completely new ways with these polymer materials due to their very small size and extremely high surface-to-volume ratio. Therefore, these nano additives can bring about very interesting functionalities to polymeric materials.
With SLINTEC’s technical expertise and knowledge base on nanotechnology, chemistry and advanced material technology can effectively develop local solutions, processes, and technical advice for industry issues in this area. SLINTEC is keen on developing polymer-based technologies that have a significant impact on the way local polymer industries operate.