Polymers for Emerging Technologies

The early developments in Polymer Technology occurred without any real knowledge of the molecular theory of polymers. The idea that the Structure of Molecules in Nature might give an understanding of plastics was put forward by Emil Fischer, who in 1901 discovered that natural polymers were built up of linked chains of molecules. It was not until 1922 that the chemist Herman Staudinger proposed that not only were these chains far longer than first thought, but they were composed of giant molecules containing more than a thousand atoms. He christened them ‘macromolecules’, but his theory was not proved until 1935 when the first plastic was created with a predictable form. This was the first synthetic fibre, nylon.