Plant-powered plastics

Scientists are using green materials to create more Earth-friendly plastics

By Sharon Oosthoek, 14:17 PM July 13, 2011

Spaghetti

If you looked at the plastic in your sneakers under a high-powered microscope, it would resemble cooked spaghetti, with each noodle tangled in the others.

Plastics are made of groups of many atoms — the smallest building block of any element — linked together into molecules. Molecules, in turn, are the smallest complete unit of any chemical. In plastics, the molecules are linked into long chains called polymers.

Polymers “become entangled with each other much like a single strand of cook...

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