CHEM 125b - Lecture 16 - Isoprenoids, Rubber, and Tuning Polymer Properties

Lecture 16 - Isoprenoids, Rubber, and Tuning Polymer Properties


Isoprenoid or terpene natural products, that seem to be made from isoprene (2-methylbutadiene), are formed by oligomerization of electrophilic isopentenyl pyrophosphate (IPP). Latex, the polymer of IPP, became commercially important when Charles Goodyear, a New Haven native, discovered how to vulcanize rubber. Statistical mechanics explains such curious properties of rubber as contraction upon heating when tightly stretched. Specific chemical treatment confers useful properties on a wide variety of polymers, including hair, synthetic rubber, and plastics. The structure of copolymers demonstrates non-Hammond behavior and ionic character in the transition state for free-radical polymerization.


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