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A monomer (/ˈmɒnəmər/ MON-ə-mər[1]) (mono-, "one" + -mer, "part") is a molecule that, as a unit, binds chemically or supramolecularly to other molecules to form a supramolecular polymer.[2][3] Large numbers of monomer units combine to form polymers in a process called polymerization. It is a small molecule of an organic substance. A double bond exists between the individual molecules which are weak. Molecules of a small number of monomer units (up to a few dozen) are called oligomers. The term "monomeric protein" may also be used to describe one of the proteins making up a multiprotein complex.[1]

Biopolymer groupings, and the types of monomers that create them:[4]
  • For lipids (Diglycerides, triglycerides)*, the monomers are glycerol and fatty acids.
  • For proteins (Polypeptides), the monomers are amino acids.
  • For Nucleic acids (DNA/RNA), the monomers are nucleotides, each of which is made of a pentose sugar, a nitrogenous base and a phosphate group.
  • For carbohydrates (Polysaccharides specifically and disaccharides—depends), the monomers are monosaccharides.

*Diglycerides and triglycerides are made from smaller molecules by dehydration synthesis, which is not the same process as the end-to-end linking of similar monomers that qualifies as polymerization; thus, diglycerides and triglycerides are an exception to the term polymer.

Examples: The most common natural monomer is glucose, which is linked by glycosidic bonds into polymers such as cellulose, starch, and glycogen. The term monomer also refers to organic molecules that form synthetic polymers, for example the vinyl chloride monomer, which is used to produce the polymer polyvinyl chloride (PVC).

Industrial polymers:
IUPAC definition
Monomer: A substance composed of monomer molecules.[5] Monomer molecule: A molecule which can undergo polymerization, thereby
contributing constitutional units to the essential structure of a macromolecule.[5]

Natural monomers[edit]

Amino acids are natural monomers that polymerize at ribosomes to form proteins. Nucleotides, monomers found in the cell nucleus, polymerize to form nucleic acidsDNA and RNA. Glucose monomers can polymerize to form starches, glycogen or cellulose; xylose monomers can polymerise to form xylan. In all these cases and is thus not pliable, a hydrogen atom and a hydroxyl (-OH) group are lost to form H2O, and an oxygen atom links each monomer unit. Due to the formation of water as one of the products, these reactions are known as dehydration.

Isoprene is a natural monomer and polymerizes to form natural rubber, most often cis-1,4-polyisoprene, but also trans-1,4-polymer

Molecular weight[edit]

The lower molecular weight compounds built from monomers are also referred to as dimers, trimers, tetramers, pentamers, hexamers, heptamers, octamers, nonamers, decamers, dodecamers, eicosamers, etc. if they have 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 12, or 20 monomer units, respectively.[6] Any number of these monomer units may be indicated by the appropriate Greek prefix. Larger numbers are often stated in English or numbers instead of Greek; e.g., a 20-mer is formed from 20 monomers. Molecules made of a small number of monomer units, up to a few dozen, are called oligomers.

Industrial use[edit]

In the light of the current[when?] tight monomers market, particularly in propylene, and of the benefits of membrane-based recovery processes, major polyolefin producers around the world already employ such recovery processes in new state-of-the-art plants. In order to enhance the competitiveness of older plants, the use of a recovery solution has started to become mandatory.[7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Monomer". Unabridged. Random House. 2014. Retrieved April 15, 2014. 
  2. ^ Introduction to Polymers 1987 R.J. Young Chapman & Hall ISBN 0-412-22170-5
  3. ^ Bruce Alberts, Alexander Johnson, Julian Lewis,Otin Raff, Keith Roberts, and Peter Walter, Molecular Biology of the Cell, 2008, Garland Science, ISBN 978-0-8153-4105-5.
  4. ^ Ebuengan, Kaye. "Biomolecules: Classification and structural properties of carbohydrates". 
  5. ^ a b "Glossary of basic terms in polymer science (IUPAC Recommendations 1996)". Pure and Applied Chemistry. 68 (12): 2287–2311. 1996. doi:10.1351/pac199668122287. 
  6. ^ Campbell, Neil A.; Brad Williamson; Robin J. Heyden (2006). Biology: Exploring Life. Boston, Massachusetts: Pearson Prentice Hall. ISBN 0-13-250882-6. 
  7. ^ "Membranes on Polyolefins Plants Vent Recovery, Improvement Economics Program". by Intratec, ISBN 978-0615678917. Archived from the original on May 13, 2013. 

External links[edit]