Why would it be more favorable for a polymer designer to design copolymers with irregular chain structures, rather than design homopolymers?

Hint: Discuss intermolecular bonds

I understand that copolymerization allows for greater variation in polymers and there properties, but am unsure how exactly to relate this to intermolecular forces. Would it also depend on the intended use of the polymer?


I think that the best thing for you to start with is to compare the radical formed low density polyethylene (LDPE) and the Ziegler-Natta high density polyethylene (HDPE).

The low density polyethene has plenty of side groups which are randomly arranged through the length of the chain, this can be regarded as a copolymer of a range of different alkenes which are randomly arranged.

The high density polyethene (HDPE) is an almost perfect homopolymer of CH2 units, this polymer has far better mechanical properties, it is a polymer where the chains pack closer to each other than the chains in LDPE.

There is a version of HDPE which has properties closer to that of LDPE, this is formed by using a mixture of alkenes using the organometallic Ziegler-Natta cataylsts.


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