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Pure Appl. Chem., Vol. 68, No.12, pp. 2287-2311, 1996



Glossary of basic terms in polymer science
(IUPAC Recommendations 1996)

Prepared for publication by A. D. Jenkins (UK), P. Kratochvìl (Czech Republic), R. F. T. Stepto (UK), and U. W. Suter (Switzerland)



In order to present clear concepts it is necessary that idealized definitions be adopted but it is recognized that the realities of polymer science must be faced. Deviations from ideality arise with polymers at both molecular and bulk levels in ways that have no parallel with the ordinary small molecules of organic or inorganic chemistry. Although such deviations are not explicitly taken into account in the definitions below, the nomenclature recommended can usefully be applied to the predominant structural features of real polymer molecules, if necessary with self-explanatory, if imprecise, qualifications such as "essentially º", "almost completely º", or "highly º". Although such expressions lack the rigour beloved by the purist, every experienced polymer scientist knows that communication in this discipline is impossible without them.

Conventionally, the word polymer used as a noun is ambiguous; it is commonly employed to refer to both polymer substances and polymer molecules. Henceforth, macromolecule is used for individual molecules and polymer is used to denote a substance composed of macromolecules. Polymer may also be employed unambiguously as an adjective, according to accepted usage, e.g. polymer blend, polymer molecule.


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