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Polymer Chemistry: Crystal Melting Transition

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  • Melting is the transition between a crystalline solid and a liquid. The melting point of a small molecule is very well-defined at a given pressure. Water, for instance, melts at 0oC when P = 1 atm.

    Polymers, on the other hand, do not have a single well-defined melting point. When a polymer "melts" it slowly becomes "leathery," then "tacky," and then liquid over a fairly broad temperature range42. The crystalline portion of the polymer is a nonequilibrium distribution of a large number of crystallites of different sizes and in different environments. They all do not melt at exactly the same temperature.

    Contributors and Attributions

    • David Whisnant (Wofford College). Partial support for this work was provided by the National Science Foundation's Division of Undergraduate Education through grants DUE #9950809 and DUE #9950296. Additional support was provided by the Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation.