Introduction to Polymers - PHYS 564

Instructor: Prof. Connie B. Roth
Email: cbroth @

Lectures Tuesdays & Thursdays 10:00 am - 11:15 am, MSC N302
Course Outline  [download]
Text: Hiemenz & Lodge, Polymer Chemistry, 2nd ed, 2007.

Important Dates:
Presentations on Historical Papers - in class, Tues. & Thurs., Nov. 1 & 3, 2016
Presentations on Current Research Topics - mostly in class, Thurs-Tues, Dec 1-6, 2016
Final Exam - Friday, December 9, 2016 from 3:00-5:30pm


Assignment #1 due Thursday, September 8, 2016     (MW distributions)
Assignment #2 due Thursday, September 22, 2016     (Polymerization)
Assignment #3 due Thursday, October 6, 2016     (Polymer conformations)
Assignment #4 due Thursday, October 20, 2016     (Thermodaynamics of Mixing)
Assignment #5 due Thursday, November 17, 2016     (Elasticity and entropic force)
Assignment #6 due Tuesday, November 29, 2016     (Viscoelasticity)

Review and Presentation of Historical Paper:     Selection of Historical Papers

Each student will choose an important historical / landmark paper in polymers. They must do a literature search and write a short review placing the work into context.
The review should address the following questions:
   - What was the major finding of the paper?
   - How did it advance the field?
   - How has the paper been cited?
   - Who are the authors and where was the work carried out?
   - Is work in that area still ongoing or has it been resolved?

Written reviews - no more than 2 pages double-spaced
Presentations - 5 minute presentations (maximum of 5 Powerpoint slides to illustrate key ideas or figures)

Report and Presentation on Current Research Topic:

Each student will select and report / present on a current area of research in polymers:
1) Give us the basic background to understand why are people studying this area.
   - What is the relevance to technological applications or society?
   - How long have people been researching this topic? What are the scientific issues?
   - What have been the major breakthroughs? Explain the relevant science.
   - What are the outstanding questions people are trying to address currently?
2) Give us an example of a recent study (paper) in which you feel the authors have tried to address one of these issues.
    - What did they do and how have they contributed to our scientific understanding?

Written report - no more than 5 pages double-spaced text (approx. 1500 words), not including abstract, references, or figures.
   - Cover page should include: Title, Name, Date, and Abstract (max 250 words)
   - References: minimum of 7, with at least something current within the past 3 years
   - Figures: Should be discussed within the body of the text, not just added into parentheses within the text.
Presentations - 10 minute presentations highlighting report to the class.
   Please hand-in a copy of your presentation slides (a “handout” of 6 slides/page is sufficient).

Possible Suggestions for Current Research Topics:
   - polymers for fuel cell membranes -- selected by Nick Cuccia (2016)
   - polymers in solar cells -- selected by Guanxiong Chen (2016)
   - polymers for organic light emitting diodes
   - polymers for solid electrolyte batteries
   - polymer recycling -- selected by Anika Tahsin (2016)
   - polymers for environmental remediation -- selected by Jennifer Coffman (2016)
   - green chemistry methods for polymers
   - super-critical CO2 for processing polymers -- selected by Chentao Li (2016)
   - new monomers from green sources
   - new polymer synthesis methods -- selected by Yifan Zhu (2016)
   - synthesis of multiblock, gradient and tappered copolymers
   - self-assembly and morphology of multiblock copolymers -- selected by Louis Han (2016)
   - bio-based composites
   - biodegradable polymers for disposable applications -- selected by Shannon Hill (2016)
   - polymer nanocomposites -- selected by Yannic Gagnon (2016)
   - polymer blend compatibility -- selected by Yonglun Jiang (2016)
   - polymers in microelectronics -- selected by Dylan Powers (2016)
   - polymers as organic semiconductors -- selected by Zhe Su (2016)
   - deformation of polymer glasses -- selected by Cong Cao (2016)
   - glass transition in polymer thin films -- selected by Josh Teves (2016)
   - pattern formation in elastomers -- selected by Guga Gogia (2016)
   - crystallization kinetics under shear flow -- selected by Qiang Yao (2016)
   - ... lots of other possibilities depending on what you are interested in (talk to instructor)
(Students are free to choose any current area of polymers that interests them provided it meets the instructor’s approval.)

Format for all written reviews and reports::
- 8.5" x 11" paper with 1" margins all around
- 12 point serif font (e.g., Times New Roman)
- true double spaced text (24 pt spacing, equivalent to 27 lines per page)
- Reference format:
    Siatkowski, R. E.; Dunn, D. A.; Botto, R. E. Fundamental Geochemical Properties of Materials Relevant to Petroleum Research. Journal of Obscure Chemistry 2006, 16, 200-215.