Polymers are substances containing a large number of structural
units joined by the same type of linkage. These substances often form into
a chain-like structure. Polymers in the natural world have been around
since the beginning of time. Starch, cellulose, and rubber all possess
polymeric properties. Man-made polymers have been studied since 1832.
Today, the polymer industry has grown to be larger than the aluminum,
copper and steel industries combined.
Polymers already have a range of applications that far exceeds that of any other class of material available to man. Current applications extend from adhesives, coatings, foams, and packaging materials to textile and industrial fibers, composites, electronic devices, biomedical devices, optical devices, and precursors for many newly developed high-tech ceramics.