Polymer science or macromolecular science is a subfield of materials science concerned with polymers, primarily synthetic polymers such as plastics and elastomers. The field of polymer science includes researchers in multiple disciplines including chemistry, physics, and engineering.
This science comprises three main sub-disciplines:
The first modern example of polymer science is Henri Braconnot's work in the 1830s. Henri, along with Christian Schönbein and others, developed derivatives of the natural polymer cellulose, producing new, semi-synthetic materials, such as celluloid and cellulose acetate. The term "polymer" was coined in 1833 by Jöns Jakob Berzelius, though Berzelius did little that would be considered polymer science in the modern sense. In the 1840s, Friedrich Ludersdorf and Nathaniel Hayward independently discovered that adding sulfur to raw natural rubber (polyisoprene) helped prevent the material from becoming sticky. In 1844 Charles Goodyear received a U.S. patent for vulcanizing natural rubber with sulfur and heat. Thomas Hancock had received a patent for the same process in the UK the year before. This process strengthened natural rubber and prevented it from melting with heat without losing flexibility. This made practical products such as waterproofed articles possible. It also facilitated practical manufacture of such rubberized materials. Vulcanized rubber represents the first commercially successful product of polymer research. In 1884 Hilaire de Chardonnet started the first artificial fiber plant based on regenerated cellulose, or viscose rayon, as a substitute for silk, but it was very flammable.  In 1907 Leo Baekeland invented the first synthetic plastic, a thermosetting phenol – formaldehyde resin called Bakelite. 
Despite significant advances in polymer synthesis, the molecular nature of polymers was not understood until the work of Hermann Staudinger in 1922.  Prior to Staudinger's work, polymers were understood in terms of the association theory or aggregate theory, which originated with Thomas Graham in 1861. Graham proposed that cellulose and other polymers were colloids, aggregates of molecules having small molecular mass connected by an unknown intermolecular force. Hermann Staudinger was the first to propose that polymers consisted of long chains of atoms held together by covalent bonds. It took over a decade for Staudinger's work to gain wide acceptance in the scientific community, work for which he was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1953.
The World War II era marked the emergence of a strong commercial polymer industry. The limited or restricted supply of natural materials such as silk and rubber necessitated the increased production of synthetic substitutes, such as nylon  and synthetic rubber.  In the intervening years, the development of advanced polymers such as Kevlar and Teflon have continued to fuel a strong and growing polymer industry.
The growth in industrial applications was mirrored by the establishment of strong academic programs and research institutes. In 1946, Herman Mark established the Polymer Research Institute at Brooklyn Polytechnic, the first research facility in the United States dedicated to polymer research. Mark is also recognized as a pioneer in establishing curriculum and pedagogy for the field of polymer science.  In 1950, the POLY division of the American Chemical Society was formed, and has since grown to the second-largest division in this association with nearly 8,000 members. Fred W. Billmeyer, Jr., a Professor of Analytical Chemistry had once said that "although the scarcity of education in polymer science is slowly diminishing but it is still evident in many areas. What is most unfortunate is that it appears to exist, not because of a lack of awareness but, rather, a lack of interest." 
2005 (Chemistry) Robert Grubbs, Richard Schrock, Yves Chauvin for olefin metathesis. 
2002 (Chemistry) John Bennett Fenn, Koichi Tanaka, and Kurt Wüthrich for the development of methods for identification and structure analyses of biological macromolecules. 
2000 (Chemistry) Alan G. MacDiarmid, Alan J. Heeger, and Hideki Shirakawa for work on conductive polymers, contributing to the advent of molecular electronics. 
1991 (Physics) Pierre-Gilles de Gennes for developing a generalized theory of phase transitions with particular applications to describing ordering and phase transitions in polymers. 
1974 (Chemistry) Paul J. Flory for contributions to theoretical polymer chemistry. 
1963 (Chemistry) Giulio Natta and Karl Ziegler for contributions in polymer synthesis. (Ziegler-Natta catalysis). 
1953 (Chemistry) Hermann Staudinger for contributions to the understanding of macromolecular chemistry. 
A polymer is a substance or material consisting of very large molecules called macromolecules, composed of many repeating subunits. Due to their broad spectrum of properties, both synthetic and natural polymers play essential and ubiquitous roles in everyday life. Polymers range from familiar synthetic plastics such as polystyrene to natural biopolymers such as DNA and proteins that are fundamental to biological structure and function. Polymers, both natural and synthetic, are created via polymerization of many small molecules, known as monomers. Their consequently large molecular mass, relative to small molecule compounds, produces unique physical properties including toughness, high elasticity, viscoelasticity, and a tendency to form amorphous and semicrystalline structures rather than crystals.
Robert Floyd Curl Jr. was an American chemist who was Pitzer–Schlumberger Professor of Natural Sciences and Professor of Chemistry at Rice University. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1996 for the discovery of the nanomaterial buckminsterfullerene, and hence the fullerene class of materials, along with Richard Smalley and Harold Kroto of the University of Sussex.
The Nobel Prize in Physics is a yearly award given by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences for those who have made the most outstanding contributions for humankind in the field of physics. It is one of the five Nobel Prizes established by the will of Alfred Nobel in 1895 and awarded since 1901, the others being the Nobel Prize in Chemistry, Nobel Prize in Literature, Nobel Peace Prize, and Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. Physics is traditionally the first award presented in the Nobel Prize ceremony.
A macromolecule is a very large molecule important to biophysical processes, such as a protein or nucleic acid. It is composed of thousands of covalently bonded atoms. Many macromolecules are polymers of smaller molecules called monomers. The most common macromolecules in biochemistry are biopolymers and large non-polymeric molecules such as lipids, nanogels and macrocycles. Synthetic fibers and experimental materials such as carbon nanotubes are also examples of macromolecules.
Karl Waldemar Ziegler was a German chemist who won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1963, with Giulio Natta, for work on polymers. The Nobel Committee recognized his "excellent work on organometallic compounds [which]...led to new polymerization reactions and ... paved the way for new and highly useful industrial processes". He is also known for his work involving free-radicals, many-membered rings, and organometallic compounds, as well as the development of Ziegler–Natta catalyst. One of many awards Ziegler received was the Werner von Siemens Ring in 1960 jointly with Otto Bayer and Walter Reppe, for expanding the scientific knowledge of and the technical development of new synthetic materials.
Polymer chemistry is a sub-discipline of chemistry that focuses on the structures of chemicals, chemical synthesis, and chemical and physical properties of polymers and macromolecules. The principles and methods used within polymer chemistry are also applicable through a wide range of other chemistry sub-disciplines like organic chemistry, analytical chemistry, and physical chemistry. Many materials have polymeric structures, from fully inorganic metals and ceramics to DNA and other biological molecules. However, polymer chemistry is typically related to synthetic and organic compositions. Synthetic polymers are ubiquitous in commercial materials and products in everyday use, such as plastics, and rubbers, and are major components of composite materials. Polymer chemistry can also be included in the broader fields of polymer science or even nanotechnology, both of which can be described as encompassing polymer physics and polymer engineering.
Hideki Shirakawa is a Japanese chemist, engineer, and Professor Emeritus at the University of Tsukuba and Zhejiang University. He is best known for his discovery of conductive polymers. He was co-recipient of the 2000 Nobel Prize in Chemistry jointly with Alan MacDiarmid and Alan Heeger.
Hermann Staudinger was a German organic chemist who demonstrated the existence of macromolecules, which he characterized as polymers. For this work he received the 1953 Nobel Prize in Chemistry.
Alan Graham MacDiarmid, ONZ FRS was a New Zealand-born American chemist, and one of three recipients of the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 2000.
Paul John Flory was an American chemist and Nobel laureate who was known for his work in the field of polymers, or macromolecules. He was a leading pioneer in understanding the behavior of polymers in solution, and won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1974 "for his fundamental achievements, both theoretical and experimental, in the physical chemistry of macromolecules".
Alan Jay Heeger is an American physicist, academic and Nobel Prize laureate in chemistry.
Robert Howard GrubbsForMemRS was an American chemist and the Victor and Elizabeth Atkins Professor of Chemistry at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, California. He was a co-recipient of the 2005 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his work on olefin metathesis.
The National Historic Chemical Landmarks program was launched by the American Chemical Society in 1992 to recognize significant achievements in the history of chemistry and related professions. The program celebrates the centrality of chemistry. The designation of such generative achievements in the history of chemistry demonstrates how chemists have benefited society by fulfilling the ACS vision: Improving people's lives through the transforming power of chemistry. The program occasionally designates International Historic Chemical Landmarks to commemorate "chemists and chemistry from around the world that have had a major impact in the United States".
Herman Francis Mark was an Austrian-American chemist regarded for his contributions to the development of polymer science. Mark's x-ray diffraction work on the molecular structure of fibers provided important evidence for the macromolecular theory of polymer structure. Together with Houwink he formulated an equation, now called the Mark–Houwink or Mark–Houwink–Sakurada equation, describing the dependence of the intrinsic viscosity of a polymer on its relative molecular mass. He was a long-time faculty at Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn. In 1946, he established the Journal of Polymer Science.
Carl Shipp "Speed" Marvel was an American chemist who specialized in polymer chemistry. He made important contributions to U.S. synthetic rubber program during World War II, and later worked at developing polybenzimidazoles, temperature-resistant polymers that are used in the aerospace industry, in fire-fighting equipment, and as a replacement for asbestos. He has been described as "one of the world's outstanding organic chemists" and received numerous awards, including the 1956 Priestley Medal and the 1986 National Medal of Science, presented by President Ronald Reagan.
The Nobel Prize in Chemistry is awarded annually by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences to scientists in the various fields of chemistry. It is one of the five Nobel Prizes established by the will of Alfred Nobel in 1895, awarded for outstanding contributions in chemistry, physics, literature, peace, and physiology or medicine. This award is administered by the Nobel Foundation, and awarded by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences on proposal of the Nobel Committee for Chemistry which consists of five members elected by the Academy. The award is presented in Stockholm at an annual ceremony on 10 December, the anniversary of Nobel's death.
Elmer Otto Kraemer was an American chemist whose studies and published results materially aided in the transformation of colloid chemistry from a qualitative to a quantitative science. For eleven years, from 1927 to 1938, he was the leader of research chemists studying fundamental and industrial colloid chemistry problems and a peer of Wallace Hume Carothers at the Experimental Station of the E. I. du Pont de Nemours Company where both men contributed to the invention of nylon that was publicly announced on October 27, 1938. The 1953 Nobel Laureate in chemistry, Hermann Staudinger, had a high regard for the American pioneers in polymer chemistry, particularly Kraemer and Carothers
Institut Charles Sadron is a research center of the Centre national de la recherche scientifique, associated with the University of Strasbourg, which was created in 1954 to answer the demand for fundamental research in the emerging field of polymer science.
John Douglass Ferry was a Canadian-born American chemist and biochemist noted for development of surgical products from blood plasma and for studies of the chemistry of large molecules. Along with Williams and Landel, Ferry co-authored the work on time-temperature superposition in which the now famous WLF equation first appeared. The National Academy of Sciences called Ferry "a towering figure in polymer science". The University of Wisconsin said that he was "undoubtedly the most widely recognized research pioneer in the study of motional dynamics in macromolecular systems by viscoelastic techniques".
Mitsuo Tasumi was a Japanese physical chemist known for his vibrational spectroscopic works on synthetic and biological macromolecules. He was Professor Emeritus of the University of Tokyo, and a former president of Saitama University, having trained a number of physical chemists active in academia and industry. Moto-o Tasumi, a zoologist at Kyoto University, was his brother.