Polymers to improve the world and lifestyle: physical, mechanical, and chemical needs
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The wide-ranging applications of polymers are due to their important advantages that involve their relatively low cost, low density, resistance to corrosion, resistance to most chemicals, and easier manufacturing designs. Their lightweight and flexible designs are crucial in applying polymers in the majority of industrial and technological applications such as aircraft engineering, space studies, packaging, and smart biomaterials. The properties of the polymers highly depend on the monomer units present within them, the connection points or nodes, their conformation, and the chemical and physical attributes of the monomers. Though polymers cover a large area ranging from elastomers to thermosets, their elasticity, insulating behavior, ductility, optical, and conducting properties sometimes necessitates additional reinforcements. Polymers can be transferred to different types of composites, and find extensive applications in environmental technologies, energy generation, storage devices, solar cells, and biomedical engineering. This chapter discusses the increase in production rate and cost of polymers during the past century up to the present date. It also provides the basic concepts of the physical, chemical, and mechanical strategies of polymers that can make them applicable in improving global lifestyles. 2020 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.