Polyethylene is probably the polymer you see most in daily life. Polyethylene is the most popular plastic in the world. This is the polymer that makes grocery bags, shampoo bottles, children’s toys, and even bullet proof vests. For such a versatile material, it has a very simple structure, the simplest of all commercial polymers. A molecule of polyethylene is nothing more than a long chain of carbon atoms, with two hydrogen atoms attached to each carbon atom. That’s what the picture at the top of the page shows, but it might be easier to draw it like the picture below, only with the chain of carbon atoms being many thousands of atoms long:
Sometimes it’s a little more complicated. Sometimes some of the carbons, instead of having hydrogens attached to them, will have long chains of polyethylene attached to them. This is called branched, or low-density polyethylene, or LDPE. When there is no branching, it is called linear polyethylene, or HDPE. Linear polyethylene is much stronger than branched polyethylene, but branched polyethylene is cheaper and easier to make.