Cross-links are bonds that link one polymer chain to another. They can be covalent bonds or ionic bonds. "Polymer chains" can refer to synthetic polymers or natural polymers (such as proteins). When the term "cross-linking" is used in the synthetic polymer science field, it usually refers to the use of cross-links to promote a difference in the polymers' physical properties. When "crosslinking" is used in the biological field, it refers to the use of a probe to link proteins together to check for protein–protein interactions, as well as other creative cross-linking methodologies.
Cross-linking is used in both synthetic polymer chemistry and in the biological sciences. Although the term is used to refer to the "linking of polymer chains" for both sciences, the extent of crosslinking and specificities of the crosslinking agents vary. Of course, with all science, there are overlaps, and the following delineations are a starting point to understanding the subtleties.