Inorganic polymers are polymers with a skeletal structure that does not include carbon atoms. Polymers containing inorganic and organic components are named hybrid polymers. One of the best known examples is polydimethylsiloxane, otherwise known commonly as silicone rubber. It has a repeat unit based on silicon and oxygen:
- Homochain polymers with one kind of atom in the main chain:
- Heterochain polymers with more than one type of atom in the main chain, mostly two types of atoms alternate along the main chain, ranked by atomic weight of in-chain elements:
- Boron-nitrogen: Polyborazylenes; of no commercial value
- Silicon-Oxygen: Polysiloxanes like the Polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS), Polymethylhydrosiloxane (PMHS) and polydiphenylsiloxane;
- Silicon-nitrogen: Polysilazanes like Perhydridopolysilazane PHPS; of no commercial value
- Phosphorus-nitrogen: Polyphosphazenes and their precursor the Poly(dichlorophosphazene); of no commercial value
- Phosphorus-oxygen: Polyphosphates, which occur naturally and are widely used commercially.
- Sulfur-nitrogen: Polythiazyls; of no commercial value.
- Sulfur: Polysulfides.
Inorganic polymers are formed, like organic polymers, by:
- Step-growth polymerization: Polysiloxanes;
- Chain-growth polymerization: Polysilanes;
- Ring-opening polymerization: Poly(dichlorophosphazene).
- M. M. Labes, P. Love, and L. F. Nichols (1979). "Polysulfur nitride - a metallic, superconducting polymer". Chem. Rev. 79 (1): 1–15. doi:10.1021/cr60317a002.
- Mark, J. E.; Allcock, H. R.; West, R. “Inorganic Polymers” Prentice Hall, Englewood, NJ: 1992. ISBN 0-13-465881-7.
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