A polymer is a large molecule composed of repeating structural units. These subunits are typically connected by covalent chemical bonds...
s which contain the ester
Esters are chemical compounds derived by reacting an oxoacid with a hydroxyl compound such as an alcohol or phenol. Esters are usually derived from an inorganic acid or organic acid in which at least one -OH group is replaced by an -O-alkyl group, and most commonly from carboxylic acids and...
In organic chemistry, functional groups are specific groups of atoms within molecules that are responsible for the characteristic chemical reactions of those molecules. The same functional group will undergo the same or similar chemical reaction regardless of the size of the molecule it is a part of...
in their main chain. Although there are many polyesters, the term "polyester" as a specific material most commonly refers to polyethylene terephthalate
Polyethylene terephthalate , commonly abbreviated PET, PETE, or the obsolete PETP or PET-P, is a thermoplastic polymer resin of the polyester family and is used in synthetic fibers; beverage, food and other liquid containers; thermoforming applications; and engineering resins often in combination...
(PET). Polyesters include naturally occurring chemicals, such as in the cutin
Cutin is one of two waxy polymers that are the main components of the plant cuticle, which covers all aerial surfaces of plants. The other major cuticle polymer is cutan, which is much more readily preserved in the fossil record,...
of plant cuticle
Plant cuticles are a protective waxy covering produced only by the epidermal cells of leaves, young shoots and all other aerial plant organs without periderm...
s, as well as synthetics through step-growth polymerization
Step-growth polymerization refers to a type of polymerization mechanism in which bi-functional or multifunctional monomers react to form first dimers, then trimers, longer oligomers and eventually long chain polymers. Many naturally occurring and some synthetic polymers are produced by step-growth...
such as polycarbonate
PolycarbonatePhysical PropertiesDensity 1.20–1.22 g/cm3Abbe number 34.0Refractive index 1.584–1.586FlammabilityV0-V2Limiting oxygen index25–27%Water absorption – Equilibrium0.16–0.35%Water absorption – over 24 hours0.1%...
Polybutyrate is a biodegradable aliphatic-aromatic polyester plastic....
. Natural polyesters and a few synthetic ones are biodegradable, but most synthetic polyesters are not.
Depending on the chemical structure, polyester can be a thermoplastic
Thermoplastic, also known as a thermosoftening plastic, is a polymer that turns to a liquid when heated and freezes to a very glassy state when cooled sufficiently...
or thermoset; however, the most common polyesters are thermoplastics.
Fabrics woven or knitted from polyester thread or yarn are used extensively in apparel and home furnishings, from shirts and pants to jackets and hats, bed sheets, blankets, upholstered furniture and computer mouse mats.