CHEM 770/7700 - Principles of Polymer Science

Semester: Fall 2020

Professor: M. Gauthier | Discipline: Polymer |


Course content

  1. Basic definitions: Monomers, polymers, polymerization reactions. Polymer structure, nomenclature. Molecular weight distributions and average molecular weights.
  2. Molecular weight measurements: Colligative properties, osmometry, light scattering, viscosity, gel permeation chromatography.
  3. Step-growth polymerization. Types of reactions. Reactivity, kinetics. Molecular weight distribution and control, branching and cross-linking. Polymerization equilibria. Preparation of polyesters, polycarbonates, polyamides.
  4. Radical chain polymerization. Types of polymerization reactions (bulk, solution, heterogeneous). Polymerization kinetics and energetics, molecular weight distribution. “Living” radical polymerization reactions. Preparation of polyethylene, polystyrene, vinyl polymers.
  5. Mechanical properties. Modulus and glass transition temperature, structure-property correlations. Viscoelasticity, stress relaxation, dynamic mechanical properties, mechanical models.
  6. (If time allows) Thermodynamics of polymer solutions and mixtures (blends). Flory-Huggins theory and solubility parameters. Phase separation in block copolymers and polymer blends. Polymer self-assembly.

Prerequisites: CHEM 254 (Thermodynamics), 264 (Organic chemistry) or equivalents.


Texts (on reserve at library for 3-hour loans – Look under CHEM 370)

“Principles of Polymerization” 4th ed., G. Odian, Wiley: New York, 2004. QD281.P6O3 2004. Available in both printed and e-book forms.
“The Elements of Polymer Science and Engineering” 3rd ed., A. Rudin and P. Choi, Academic Press: Orlando, 2013. QD381.R8 2013.


Mid-term exam (2.5 hours duration; scheduled during the week of Nov. 4): 40%
Final exam (2.5 hours duration, only covers 2nd half of material): 40%
Term paper (topic related to the course and relevant to the student’s research, or else to be assigned by the instructor): 20%. See term paper handout for details.
Three assignments with solutions will be posted on the course website as exercises, but will not be collected nor marked.



Graduate students registered for credit (non-audit students) are required to write a term paper that will be worth 20% of the total course mark.

Topic: Should be related to the course material (i.e. one of the topics listed in the course outline) AND, whenever possible, to your own thesis research. However it should not be a discussion of your own research –just rewriting that CHEM 794 report is not an option! For example, you may want to learn more about a specific characterization or polymerization technique you will use in your own research. If you do not have any idea about which topic to choose, come see me and I can help you select one (or else assign you one). I must personally approve the topic of your term paper by Tuesday, October 1st at the latest. Students who have not submitted a topic by then will receive a 25% penalty on their term paper (equivalent to 5% of the total course mark). Do NOT wait until the last minute to seek approval, nor simply assume that whatever topic you selected will be appropriate.

Format: The paper should be 15-30 pages in length overall (double line spacing, figures included) and written in the format of a review with the following sections: Title page, table of contents, introduction, main body, conclusions, and cited references. The main body of the text should be in the format of a review paper, divided into sections discussing different aspects of the topic in an organized (coherent) fashion. The conclusions section should summarize the main points brought up in the review. The scope of the topic must be restricted so that you can find only ca. 10-20 references overall, and NOT all from the same 1-2 research groups. Note that the literature should be cited throughout the text (with the references appearing in numerical order), not simply provided as a bibliography. The source of any figure borrowed from the literature should be specified by adding a reference number to the caption. References to web sites are forbidden. You should limit yourself to peer-reviewed literature, considered much more reliable as a source of information.

Due date: All term papers are due at the last lecture, i.e. Tuesday, December 3rd. Please note that due to the tight exam schedule, no extensions will be granted to suit individual needs. Get started early so you do not run out of time! Both hard copy (paper) and electronic (Acrobat PDF or Microsoft Word) submissions will be required.

Grading of the papers will be based on the overall quality of writing, i.e. logical organization of the sections, quality of grammar and lack of typographical errors, quality and appropriateness of figures, etc. Do NOT simply cut and paste blocks of text from the references to assemble into your term paper – this is plagiarism! Always say it in your own words. Please note that if you have problems writing in English, you should seek the help of a qualified person to proofread your text before submission so that you are not penalized.

For detailed information on what is considered plagiarism at the University of Waterloo, please consult the following web site:

This includes many examples of what is considered academic misconduct at UW:



  • Tue: 8:30 am - 9:50 am in Remote
  • Thu: 8:30 am - 9:50 am in Remote

Office Hours

Instructor: Mario Gauthier, C2-169, 888-4567, Ext. 35205, e-mail: [email protected] Course web site: Available on Learn/D2L