I think there are few crosslinks in elastic material. So probably, the material would look like not so dense, maybe even transparent.

I received this question from my collegue and have difficulty in answering it. I think this question is about know how the structure of an elastic polymer looks on the molecular level.

What does the elastic polymeric material look like at molecular level?

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    $\begingroup$ I don't quite understand the question. I could guess that you just want to know how the structure of an elastic polymer looks on the molecular level, but then I would say, that this question is too broad. Maybe you should consider adding more specific information to your post, otherwise I fear your bounty will turn into dust. $\endgroup$ Dec 9, 2015 at 5:20
  • $\begingroup$ @Martin-マーチン I received the question from my collegue and I have had difficulty in answering it. So please add an answer about how the structure of an elastic polymer just looks on the molecular level. It may just be about that. $\endgroup$ Dec 9, 2015 at 7:02
  • $\begingroup$ @Martin-マーチン I understand the question as interdisciplinary umbrella question perhaps most relevant to physical-chemistry. Generic answers outlining features such as repetitive units and common forces -- usual spatial measures such as the size of sub particles in nanoscale for typical particles ma be relevant answers. There must be some comparison of different polymers covered in some materials science book, researching. $\endgroup$
    – hhh
    Dec 9, 2015 at 18:22
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    $\begingroup$ Are you asking about the structure of elastomers? $\endgroup$ Dec 10, 2015 at 4:26
  • $\begingroup$ Yes, I think. Elastomers. $\endgroup$ Dec 10, 2015 at 6:11

2 Answers 2


Broadly, the elastic polymeric materials are structural with the mixture of networks of molecular chains and liquid. There may be a distinction between the terms "elastic polymeric materials" and "elastic polymers". Key features contain repetition of some parts so open to bioengineering such as bioprinting. Each specific elastic polymeric material differs at molecular level. For example some materials can have long repetitive carbon chains while some materials can have short repetitive carbon chains where each structure is attached together by some forces. There are different kinds of forces where their degree is relative to the molecule:

Brainstorming on the question "What look like?" What does it mean?

  1. what is meant by "look like"?

  2. intermolecular forces? Repulsive forces? Attraction forces?

  3. EM fields between each charged particles? How are quantum phenomena in materials such as doping considered?

  4. What does the electron current look like over the material?

  5. What is the distribution of static charge?

Perhaps relevant

The book Edited by Xiang Yang Liu and Jing-Liang Li "Soft Fibrillar Materials Fabrication and Applications".

"As one of the most important classes of soft materials, supramolecular materials are of a mixture of networks of molecular chains/fibrils and a liquid. These self-assembled fibrous/ molecular architectures exhibit various functionalities, ie. superhydrophobicity or superior mechanical strength, etc. and consist of the controllable structures.


The book covers the most important soft functional materials, including small molecule physical gels, silkworm silk and spider silk fibers and functional fibers, with respect both to the fundamentals and to development and engineering methods. It provides the reader with the necessary knowledge on the chemical and physical formation mechanisms of these materials and demonstrates that one can rationally design and tune the fibrillar networks so that the resulting materials exhibit the desired functionalities.

This work is a must-have for all Materials Scientists, Polymer Chemists, Condensed Matter Physicists, and Biotechnologists working in this interdisciplinary field."

  • $\begingroup$ Structure = matrix/non-matrix + ... Energy of structures in EM fields and KE. $\endgroup$ Dec 9, 2015 at 19:39
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    $\begingroup$ @hhh Is there any reason why this post should be community wiki? $\endgroup$ Dec 11, 2015 at 4:22

The images below of vulcanized butyl rubber monomer and chains should give some clarity. Essentially elastic polymers (elastomers) consist of polymer chains that do not crystallize and are bound to each other by a cross-linking agent.

Butyl rubber [poly(isoprene); your typical elastic material] is a good material to look at for what makes a good elastomer. As you can in Figure 1 see the isoprene monomer has a methyl pendant group on the molecule which makes the molecue asymetric and greatly inhibits crystallization of the polymer. It also has two double bonds which you can see in Figure 2 creates molecules which form trapezoidal monomer patterns as opposed to the typical "zig-zag." This special shape and lack of crystallization is what allows the polymer to extend a greatly as it does and spring back to it origional shape.

Isoprene Monomer

Figure 1. Molecular Structure of Isoprene Monomer.

Natural Poly(isoprene) Figure 2. Molecular Structure of Natural Poly(isoprene).

Butyl rubber is often cross-linked with sulfur as shown in Figure 3. Note the two distinct polymer strands and the sulfur atoms linking them. This cross-linking disallows the chains from slipping by one another (like spagehtti strands being pulled with a fork) and reduces the ability of the material to permanently deform.

Crosslinked butyl rubber Figure 3. Molecular Structure of Vulcanized Butyl Rubber

  • $\begingroup$ How is the last image made? How do you know how to divide the structure that like? How do you know that the S-S-S is not part of either chain (green or blue)? $\endgroup$ Dec 14, 2015 at 15:09
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    $\begingroup$ The S-S-S comes from mixing sulfur with the rubber and curing it in an oven at high temperature. Sulfur is not a part of the origional chain, but rather bonds to the chains during curing. $\endgroup$
    – A.K.
    Dec 14, 2015 at 15:34
  • $\begingroup$ How can you do this kind of coloring of polymers? $\endgroup$ Dec 14, 2015 at 15:58
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    $\begingroup$ I took it from wikipedia. $\endgroup$
    – A.K.
    Dec 14, 2015 at 15:59

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