Introduction to Polymers - PHYS 564

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

Lectures Mondays & Wednesdays 11:30 am - 12:45 pm, MSC N301
Course Outline  [download]
Text: Hiemenz & Lodge, Polymer Chemistry, 2nd ed, 2007.

Important Dates:
Presentations on Historical Papers - in class, Wednesday, April 10, 2019
Presentations on Current Research Topics - mostly in class, Monday, April 29, 2019
Final Exam - Wednesday, May 8, 2019 from 8:00-10:30 am


Assignment #1 due Wednesday, January 30, 2019     (MW distributions)
Assignment #2 due Wednesday, February 13, 2019     (Polymerization)
Assignment #3 due Wednesday, February 27, 2019     (Polymer conformations)
Assignment #4 due Wednesday, March 20, 2019     (Thermodaynamics of Mixing)
Assignment #5 due Wednesday, April 17, 2019     (Elasticity and entropic force)
Assignment #6 due Wednesday, April 24, 2019     (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
   - polymers in solar cells
   - polymers for organic light emitting diodes
   - polymers for solid electrolyte batteries
   - polymer recycling
   - polymers for environmental remediation
   - green chemistry methods for polymers
   - super-critical CO2 for processing polymers
   - new monomers from green sources
   - new polymer synthesis methods
   - synthesis of multiblock, gradient and tappered copolymers
   - self-assembly and morphology of multiblock copolymers
   - bio-based composites
   - biodegradable polymers for disposable applications
   - polymer nanocomposites
   - polymer blend compatibility
   - polymers in microelectronics
   - polymers as organic semiconductors
   - deformation of polymer glasses
   - glass transition in polymer thin films
   - pattern formation in elastomers
   - crystallization kinetics under shear flow
   - ... 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: (for example)
    Smith, A. B.; Huang, C. D.; Roth, E. F. Fundamental Physical Properties of Polymer Materials. Journal of Obscure Polymer Science 2018, 23, 143-146.