Polymer Essay: Plexiglass
Many of the glass screens and windows we see today are not really made of glass. They are made of plexiglass. Plexiglass is not related to the chemical structure of glass at all. It is an organic polymer. Today this polymer is used in all sorts of applications. The formation of plexiglass was begun in 1930, at McGi11 University by William Chalmers, a research student. He polymerized methacrylic ethyl ester and methacrylic nitirile, creating a clear plastic paste. Later, in 1936, Walter Bauer and Otto Rohm accidentally developed plexiglass by pouring the gum between two sheets of glass. The gum hardened and separated cleanly from the glass sheets. They created plexiglass as we know it today. Since its discovery, plexiglass has found more and more applications and uses. Its important physical properties are due to the chemical structure of this polymer.
Plexiglass has a glass-like appearance. It is completely transparent and clear, even clearer than glass. However, unlike glass, it is not easily shattered. Plexiglass can take a lot of force before it cracks. Due to this, plexiglass is often referred to as “shatterproof glass”. Thus it is not surprising that many of the uses of plexiglass are often as a substitute for glass. One of the first uses of plexiglass was in making the cockpit windows for airplanes. Plexiglass could take the high air pressure without shattering. Bulletproof plexiglass is used in banks. The barriers around a hockey rink are also made of plexiglass. Because the visibility through plexiglass remains clear even if it is very thick, it is also ideal for making an aquarium. Plexiglass is also used for making display cases. These useful properties of plexiglass are due to its chemical structure.
The chemical name for plexiglass is poly (methyl methacrylate). It belongs in a family of polymers called the acrylates, or commonly known as the acrylics. The acrylics come under many common names....
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