Polymers are chains of tiny molecules linked together repeatedly to develop a single layer molecule (Polymer chemistryÂ n.d.). The small, repeating units are called monomers and the entire process of joining the molecules is called polymerization. When similar units are joined repeatedly to make the polymer a homopolymer is formed. Conversely, when different repeating units are linked to form a polymer the resulting product is a copolymer (Kurtz 2012).
Polymers can also be linear or branched. The conditions present during the synthesis of a polymer determine whether the polymer formed is branched or linear. Polymers form the basis of ingredients for substances with exceptional chemical and physical traits. Polymerization manipulates huge, complex molecules and takes advantage of the linkages between their molecular configurations that make them helpful (Polymer chemistryÂ n.d.). The exceptional properties of polymers are determined by the extent and the organization of the molecular chain. In addition, the temperature sensitivity of most polymers is a function of their chemical composition and arrangement.
Polyether ether ketone (PEEK) is a high-temperature thermoplastic polymer that exists in a crystalline form (Nicholson 2006). It is an aromatic compound implying that it contains a benzene ring in its structure. PEEK is also a linear homopolymer meaning that the repeating units making the polymer are similar (Kurtz 2012). One molecule of PEEK contains about 100 monomers with a molecular weight that ranges between 80,000 and 100,000 g/mol (Kurtz 2012). PEEK belongs to the PAEK (Poly arylene ether ketones) polymer family frequently used for orthopaedic and spinal implants (Kurtz 2012).