2017 Introduction to Polymer Physics I B

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Academic unit or major
Graduate major in Chemical Science and Engineering
Imaoka Takane  Nagai Keiji 
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Course description and aims

This course enables students to understand how the unique properties of polymers which are distinguishable from those of small molecules are derived from their chain-like structure and to acquire fundamentals of the characterization procedures on the basis of the essential concepts on polymers. Thermodynamic treatments are also given for solution systems where interactions with solvents are essential for determining polymers' structures and properties, which are also available for understanding related matters such as polyelectrolytes and gels. For students in other graduate majors, this course provides the opportunity to learn about basic polymer structures as well as solution and gel properties.
Understanding their unique structure is critically important for students to grasp "What are polymers?" This is based on the fact that the specific properties of common linear polymers, which are made of many small components, are derived from unique intra- and inter-molecular interactions. In solution systems, matters are more complicated because of the additional interactions with solvents, which may be fully elucidated with rather simple thermodynamic treatments. Thus, students will understand how polymers assume their structure to reveal their properties in solution and what interactions are involved therein, by referring to relevant theoretical treatments.

Student learning outcomes

This course is intended to enable students who have no backgrounds in polymer science to acquire fundamental knowledge of the solution properties within polymer physics. By the end of this course, students will be able to:
1) Explain "what is unique about polymers?"
2) Explain the primary structures.
3) Explain how polymer chain expansion is correlated with the excluded volume effect.
4) Explain the meaning of the Flory-Huggins theory.
5) Explain the concept of average molecular weight and the principles of the measurements.
6) Explain how solution properties depend on concentration.
7) Explain the counterion binding phenomena.
8) Explain the gel swelling theories referring to the relevant solution theories.


primary structure, configuration, conformation, average molecular weight (distribution), radius of gyration, excluded volume (effect), Flory-Huggins theory, θtemperature, χparameter, light scattering, intrinsic viscosity, counterion binding, gel (swelling)

Competencies that will be developed

Specialist skills Intercultural skills Communication skills Critical thinking skills Practical and/or problem-solving skills

Class flow

The classes are conducted by referring to the designated textbook, and important concepts and terms are mainly explained for students who are required to prepare for the relevant lesson. At the end of each class, a 15 minute examination including the explanation of the problem will be given.

Course schedule/Required learning

  Course schedule Required learning
Class 1 What are polymers? - The historical identification process and the establishment of the polymer concept- ※Origin of the uniqueness of polymers, variation of polymers How polymers are distinguished from small molecules?
Class 2 Structure of polymers - Primary structure and molecular weight -  ※Connection patterns of monomers, Branching and network structures Explain primary structure and stereoregularity.
Class 3 Intrinsic properties of polymer chain - Chain models and excluded volume effects -  ※Configuration and conformation, Ideal chain and real chain How is the chain expansion correlated with the excluded volume effect?
Class 4 Polymers in solution - Theoretical treatments -  ※Flory-Huggins theory, Phase equilibrium Explain mixing of polymers with solvents in terms of thermodynamics.
Class 5 Characterization of polymer solutions - Viscometry and light scattering - ※Principles of measurements, Relation to average molecular weights Explain the respective principles for measurements of average molecular weights.
Class 6 Concentrated polymer solutions and polymer blend ※Quasi-dilute solutions and concentrated solutions, Compatibility in multi component systems Explain the concentration dependence of the intermolecular interaction and the compatibility conditions.
Class 7 Polyelectrolyte and polymer gel  ※Variation of polyelectrolytes and the counterion binding, Theories for gel swelling. Explain the counterion binding theories and the gel swelling ones
Class 8 Examination for review of some key points + term-end test.


Fundamental polymer science (Tokyo Kagaku Dojin) ISBN978-4-8079-0635-2, Chapter 1-3, 5(sec.6) (Japanese)

Reference books, course materials, etc.

Modern physics "Polymer Physics-phase transition dynamics-"(Iwanami) Chapter 2 (Japanese), G.R.Strobl"The Physics of Polymers" (Springer) Chapter 3, (These references are given as copies in the relevant class.)

Assessment criteria and methods

Understanding of the solution properties of linear polymers in terms of intra- and intermolecular interactions will be assessed.
15-minute examinations (30%) + final examination (70%)

Related courses

  • CAP.P421 : Advanced Polymer Properties I
  • CAP.P423 : Advanced Polymer Structures I
  • CAP.I539 : Advanced Course in Macromolecular Materials I
  • CAP.P422 : Advanced Polymer Properties II
  • CAP.P424 : Advanced Polymer Structures II
  • CAP.I549 : Advanced Course in Macromolecular Materials II

Prerequisites (i.e., required knowledge, skills, courses, etc.)

Students who have taken 200 and 300 level classes on polymer physics and those who have a background in polymer science may not take this course.

Contact information (e-mail and phone)    Notice : Please replace from "[at]" to "@"(half-width character).

Takane Imaoka:E-mail:timaoka[at]res.titech.ac.jp
M.Satoh:E-mail: msatoh[at]polymer.titech.ac.jp, Tel: 03-5734-2133

Office hours

Takane Imaoka: E-mail for an appointment.
K. Nagai: Contact by e-mail in advance to schedule an appointment.


This lecture will be opened simultaneously at the Ookayama and Suzukakedai campuses.

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