CHE 543 Polymer Science and Technology

This course is intended to provide a broad overview of polymer science and engineering. The emphasis will be given on the synthesis and structure of polymeric materials, the crystalline and glassy states, solution and melt properties, phase behavior, mechanical and rheological properties. 3 credit hours.


• Prerequisite

A BS Degree in engineering or related field. Students uncertain if they meet the prerequisites should contact the instructor.

• Course Objectives

By the end of the course the students will be able to:

  • Understand and describe the manufacture (using both traditional and non-traditional synthesis schemes) of commercially important polymers using concepts from chemical kinetics and equilibrium thermodynamics;

  • Present a basic understanding of the struture of polymer chains in solution (including molecular weight, molecular weight distribution, chain conformation) and methods to characterize polymers in solution;

  • Describe polymer phase behavior using basic Flory-Huggins theory of polymer solutions/melts;

  • Understand the structure of polymers in the solid state and describe the effects of structural organization (i.e. crystallinity, liquid crystallinity, phase separation) on molecular and end use properties of polymers, and recognize the basic stress/strain and viscoelastic behavior of polymers based on a knowledge of structure and thermal properties (e.g., melting and glass transition) and apply the Boltzmann superposition principle and Williams-Landel-Ferry equation to predict viscoelastic behavior of polymeric melts.

• Course Requirements

HOMEWORK: Bi-weekly homework assignments

EXAMINATIONS: 2 Midterm tests (open books/open notes) and a Final Examination (closed books); calculators allowed

SOFTWARE REQUIREMENTS: Internet browser software (IE, Netscape) and PowerPoint

PROJECTS: 10 Page (double spaced) written paper

• Course Outline by Topical Areas
  • The nature of polymer materials and polymer microstructure: including branching, networks, tacticity and copolymers;

  • Polymer synthesis: step-growth and chain polymerizations;

  • Kinetics of polymerization: the kinetics of step growth and free radical chain polymerizations; relationship to molecular weight;

  • Statistics of step-growth polymerization: the use of statistics in describing molecular weight distributions in step-growth polymerization;

  • Copolymerization: the kinetics of free radical copolymerization;

  • Structure: chain conformations, amorphous polymers, and the morphology of semi- crystalline polymers;

  • Crystallization, melting and the glass transition: an introduction to crystallization kinetics, melting and glass formation;

  • Polymer solutions: the Flory-Huggins theory and phase behavior;

  • Measurement of molecular weight: osmometry, light scattering, viscosity and size exclusion chromatography; mechanical and rheological properties: stress/strain behavior, visoelasticity, non- linear mechanical and rheological behavior, ultimate properties.

• Textbook

Fundamentals of Polymer Science: An Introductory Text by Paul C. Painter, Steven Strauss, Michael M. Coleman. Woodhead Publishing, Ltd., April 1998. ISBN-13: 9781566765596.


Essentials of Polymer Science and Engineering, Michael M. Coleman, Paul C. Painter, ISBN: 1932078754

Supplementary textbooks:
Young, R. J. and P. A. Lovell, Introduction to Polymers, Chapman & Hall, London, 1991, Third edition. ISBN: 978-0849339295

Flory, P. J., Principles of Polymer Chemistry, Cornell University Press, Ithaca, NY, 1967.

• Computer and Internet Requirements

NCSU and Engineering Online have recommended minimum specifications for computers. For details, click here.

• Instructor

Dr. Jan Genzer, Professor
Dept. of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering
Engineering Bldg I (COE I), Box 7905
NCSU Campus
Raleigh, NC 27695

Phone: (919) 515-2069
Fax: (919) 515-3465
Instructor Website: