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A macromolecule in which two or more types of monomer are incorporated into the polymer chain. This contrasts with a homopolymer, which consists of only one type of monomer. Copolymerization offers the ability to alter the properties of a homopolymer by introducing an appropriately chosen second repeating unit, or to combine the desirable properties of two different homopolymers in a single molecule. The properties of a copolymer depend on the nature of the monomers and their distribution in the chain. Thus, monomers A and B can polymerize randomly (e.g. as ABBAABA); they can alternate (ABAB); they can form blocks (AAABBB); or one polymer can be grafted onto a polymer of the other (see Figure 1). Copolymers can be prepared by all the known methods of polymerization: addition polymerization of vinyl monomers (by conventional or living free-radical, anionic, cationic, or coordination catalysis), ring-opening polymerization, or condensation polymerization. Copolymers can also be formed by the chemical reaction of functional groups (usually endgroups) on the constituent polymer chains.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMcGraw Hill Encyclopedia of Science and Technology
Place of PublicationNew York
PublisherMcGraw-Hill N.Y.
ISBN (Print)9780071441438, 0071441433
Publication statusPublished - 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Copolymer
  • Controlled radical polymerization
  • Block copolymer
  • Graft copolymer


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