2020 Introduction to Polymer Physical Properties I

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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 Structure, molecular weight and distribution of macromolecules Explain the concept of primary structure, higher order structure and molecular weight distribution of macromolecules
Class 2 Intrinsic properties of polymer chain - Chain models and excluded volume effects - Explain models expressing the extension of polymer chain and exclusion volume effect
Class 3 Methods for the measurements of molecular weights and distributions Explain the principle of GPC, light scattering and mass spectrometry as the molecular-weight analysis methods.
Class 4 Higher-order structure of polymer solid Explain the crystal structure, orientation, glass state of polymer solids
Class 5 Characterizations of higher order structure of polymer Explain analytical methods (small angle scattering, electron microscope, polarized light etc.) to study the structure of polymer solids
Class 6 Phase transition of polymer solid Explain phase transitions and their thermodynamics of polymers (glass transition and melting)
Class 7 Polymer-based liquid crystals / polymer gels Explain the characteristics of materials such as polymer-based liquid crystals and gels

Out-of-Class Study Time (Preparation and Review)

To enhance effective learning, students are encouraged to spend approximately 100 minutes preparing for class and another 100 minutes reviewing class content afterwards (including assignments) for each class.
They should do so by referring to textbooks and other course material.


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

Reference books, course materials, etc.

Materials will be provided at the 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.I426 : Introduction to Polymer Science
  • CAP.I437 : Introduction to Polymer Physical Properties II
  • CAP.I427 : Introduction to Polymer Chemistry

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

Basic knowledge of thermodynamics (B.S. level).

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

Office hours

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

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