Monomers and Their Major Categorization

In the world of organic chemistry, there are several terms, which have their individual meanings. Some of these terms include atom, hydrocarbon, alkene, crystallization, etc. One such term is a monomer.

What Does Monomer Mean?

The term 'monomer' is derived from two words - 'mono' which means single and 'mer' which means unit. In simple words, the term 'monomer' means a single unit. A monomer is a small molecule of low molecular weight that reacts with another molecule to form a larger molecule of high molecular weight. The table sugar (sucrose) that we use every day is made up of two different monomers - glucose and fructose. The starch that is commonly associated with rice is made up of several monomeric units of glucose.

Vinyl acetate procured from a vinyl acetate monomer supplier is used for the production of industrially important polymer polyvinyl acetate. This polymer is used in the manufacture of paints and adhesives.

The monomeric unit styrene obtained from a styrene monomer supplier is used in the synthesis of the polymer polystyrene. This polymer is used in food packaging, insulation, and lamination.

The chemical butyl acrylate obtained from a butyl acrylate monomer supplier is used to develop a polymer. This polymer is an industrially useful one and has applications in coatings, paints, and adhesives.

Monomers possess the unique property of polymerization. This means that a monomer can chemically bond with other monomers to form a long chain polymer of high molecular weight. Basically, monomers are the building blocks of polymers. In the process of polymerization, certain chemical groups are eliminated from monomers so that they join together. In the case of polymerization of styrene acquired from a styrene monomer supplier, the vinyl group C-C pi bond is broken down to give rise to new C-C sigma bonds. This bond attaches to the carbon of another styrene monomer.

Categorization of Monomers:

Monomers can be classified into two main types. These are:

1) Natural Monomers

  • They are also called biological monomers.

  • These monomers are commonly found in nature.

  • They form the building blocks of large biomolecules.

  • They are responsible for the formation of different complex structures found in living organisms.

  • Natural monomers are further classified as follows:

o Monosaccharide

These monomeric units are the building blocks of complex carbohydrates such as cellulose, starch, and glycogen.

o Amino acid

Amino acids form the building blocks of all proteins that exist in the world. Several amino acids are joined to each other in a sequence to form a protein.

o Fatty acids and glycerol

Fatty acids and glycerol are the monomers of lipids.

o Nucleotides

These are the basic structural and functional units of nucleic acids, i.e. DNA and RNA.

2) Synthetic Monomers

  • They are synthesized artificially by combining various atoms together for the benefit of mankind.

  • These synthetic monomers are then used to produce larger industrially important molecules.

Common synthetic monomers include: