Natural polymers - organic and inorganic
Organic polymers play a crucial role in living things, providing basic structural materials and participating in vital life processes. For example, the solid parts of all plants are made up of polymers. These include cellulose, lignin, and various resins. Cellulose is a polysaccharide, a polymer that is composed of sugar molecules. Lignin consists of a complicated three-dimensional network of polymers. Wood resins are polymers of a simple hydrocarbon, isoprene. Another familiar isoprene polymer is rubber.
polynucleotide chain of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA)
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Other important natural polymers include the proteins, which are polymers of amino acids, and the nucleic acids, which are polymers of nucleotides—complex molecules composed of nitrogen-containing bases, sugars, and phosphoric acid. The nucleic acids carry genetic information in the cell. Starches, important sources of food energy derived from plants, are natural polymers composed of glucose.
Discover how researchers are manufacturing diamonds for use in research3:19© American Chemical Society© American Chemical Society
Many inorganic polymers also are found in nature, including diamond and graphite. Both are composed of carbon. In diamond, carbon atoms are linked in a three-dimensional network that gives the material its hardness. In graphite, used as a lubricant and in pencil “leads,” the carbon atoms link in planes that can slide across one another.