The stuff which dreamsmousepads are made of

Neoprene was invented at DuPont chemicals' (now Dupont Dow's) lab for the development of artificial materials in 1931 as an oil-resistant synthetic rubber. Its main uses are in mouse pads and wetsuits, but it can also be used in boat waterproofing, as an insulator for electrical connections, in conveyor belts, car belts, in sex toys (as is immediately evident from a Google Search for "neoprene") and as the material used in hoses at petrol pumps (since it is the only readily available ductile bendy material that isn't dissolved by gasoline). Thus, you have probably come into contact with this substance at least once in your life, and part of your wrist is probably resting on it right now.

It is formed from the polymerisation of chloroprene (therefore neoprene could also be called polychloroprene) and can be copolymerised to form a variety of other chemicals. If so desired, you can buy it in liquid form for pouring into plaster moulds.

In appearance, it is black, spongy and porous (but with very fine holes).

Properties

  • Unlike natural rubber, neoprene is not flammable.
  • Neoprene is not degraded by solvents, oil, petrol, grease, sunlight or ozone. This makes it ideal for petrol pumps, and other situations where you might want to pump flammable chemicals around.
  • It does not change shape with temperature, enabling it to be used virtually anywhere and at virtually any temperature (within reason).
  • Despite this, it is thermoplastic (can be remoulded with heat) so it can be recycled.
  • It is also very resistant to twisting and flexing.

Sources: http://www.dupont-dow.com/Products/Neoprene/neoprene.asp, http://inventors.about.com/library/weekly/aa980325.htm, http://www.schoolresult.com/chemistry/man_made_organic_materials3.htm

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