Polymer Physics I (3) Introduction to the fundamental concepts needed to understand the physics applicable to polymer melts, solutions and gels.
PHYS (MATSE) 555 Polymer Physics I (3)
This course develops fundamental understanding of the conformations of polymers in solution and melt states. We start with ideal chains that have random walk statistics. Next excluded volume is introduced to understand the self-avoiding walk conformation and collapsed conformation of real chains. The behavior ideal and real chains are studied in extension, compression and adsorption. While positive excluded volume leads to swelling, negative excluded volume leads to collapse and phase separation. The phase behavior of polymer mixtures and solutions is described in detail Semidilute solutions are understood in terms of two length scales where each chain changes it’s conformational statistics. Scattering is used to determine the conformation of chains, their molar mass and their interactions with surroundings. Percolation theory is introduced to model the statistics of random branching and gelation. The rubber elasticity of fully developed networks is understood in terms of the stretching laws for network chains. Entanglement effects, swelling and viscoelasticity are discussed in detail. Once the conformations of polymers are understood, dynamics of polymer liquids are considered. In dilute solutions hydrodynamic interactions dominate and the viscoelasticity predicted by the Zimm model is derived. In unentangled melts of short chains, hydrodynamic interactions are screened and the Rouse model is used to understand viscoelasticity. Unentangled polymers in semidilute solutions have Zimm dynamics on small length scales and Rouse dynamics on longer length scales. Dynamic scattering techniques are discussed for measuring polymer dynamics. Entanglement effects are described using the tube model, where surrounding chains confine the motion of a given polymer to a tube-like region. The effects of concentration, chain length and polydispersity of linear chain polymer liquids are discussed in detail. The effects of branching on polymer dynamics are introduced at the level of simple structures such as star polymers and comb polymers.
The course assumes some prior knowledge of polymers, usually obtained through an introductory undergraduate course. The students should attain a working understanding of the basic concepts of polymer physics in this course, allowing them to tackle more difficult problems in their research. Such skills are reinforced through homework and take-home examinations.
Note : Class size, frequency of offering, and evaluation methods will vary by location and instructor. For these details check the specific course syllabus.