MadSci Network: Physics

Re: how does tempature affect the molecules of a rubber band?

Date: Mon Mar 26 18:58:27 2007
Posted By: Narayan Variankaval, , Process Chemistry, Merck Research Labs
Area of science: Physics
ID: 1173217103.Ph

Rubber band is made of what are called polymer molecules.  These are long
chains of atoms connected to each other through covalent bonds. At room
temperature and in the unstretched condition the molecules inside the
rubber band are coiled up and "floopy". They are disorganized.  This state
is called a high entropy state i.e. the level of disorder in the rubber
band is high.  When you stretch a rubber band some of the energy you
provide is taken up by the rubber band in organizing the molecules in an
ordered state - i.e. the molecules more or less line up in straight lines -
this is also referred to as crystallization.  This process gives off heat
so a stretched rubber band is actually warm to touch.

In the same way if you heat the rubber band the molecules in it will
organize themselves into crystals and this will cause the band to contract.

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