The properties of polymeric materials are studied, with the molecular properties of the polymer chains as a starting point. The relations between microstructure and macroscopic properties are focused. The most important analytical techniques for the characterization of ‘structure-property relations’ are treated. The course contains three major parts: macromolecular structure, supramolecular structure, and macroscopic polymer properties.
(i) Chain constitution and architecture, molar mass and molar mass distribution, chain conformations and chain statistics, influence of polymerisation on the macromolecular structure.
(ii) Link between microstructure and material properties: amorphous and crystalline phases, phase separation, crystallinity, morphology, networks, chain mobility, temperature-time superposition principle.
(iii) Material properties of important polymer classes (thermoplastics, thermosets, elastomers, thermoplastic elastomers, polymer blends and (nano)composites): thermal behaviour, energy-elasticity and entropy-elasticity, mechanical, electrical and optical properties.
The most important characterization methods are: molar mass determination, thermal analysis, infrared and Raman spectroscopy, optical and electron microscopy, NMR spectroscopy, X-ray analysis, and mechanical testing.
During the practicals, the theoretical content of the course is illustrated by means of the experimental characterization of both pre-defined as well as unknown polymer materials.