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Indian Institute of Technology Madras

Polymers: concepts, properties, uses and sustainability

Indian Institute of Technology Madras and NPTEL via Swayam


Polymers in solar cells, rubbers in soft robot, polymer composite in ISRO launch vehicle –these are some examples of cutting edge applications of polymeric materials. On the other hand, we see other examples of polymeric materials such as plastics and fiber reinforced plastics (FRP) all around us. What is so special about polymers, and why/how can they be used in such diverse applications? This course will introduce basic concepts related to polymeric materials; engineering estimations about their properties; various applications;and their impact on sustainability.INTENDED AUDIENCE :Students, practitioners and researchers who want to learn basics of polymersPREREQUISITES :First year courses in Maths, Physics and Chemistry, and Engineering ThermodynamicsINDUSTRIES SUPPORT :Plastics processors, FMCG companies,Automotive companies, Biotech firms


Week 1: What are polymers? What are their unique features?Why are polymers so common?Polymers: Molecular structureProcess, structure, propertyBiopolymersMolecular weight and distributionPolymerizationMacromolecular nature

Week 2: Simple concepts related to single macromoleculeRenewable sources for polymersPolymerization / depolymerizationStates of interestApplication based termsReuse and repurposeMolecular conformationsSize, mobility and flexibilityPolyelectrolytes

Week 3: Molecular arrangements and states of polymersStructures in biopolymersAmorphous / crystalline statesOrientationInteractionsKinetics of crystallizationGlass transition

Week 4: Polymeric systems of different kindStates in environmentLiquid crystalline polymersCopolymersBlends

Week 5: Blends, copolymers and compositesMicrostructure in polymersCompositesStress strain responseAdditives for polymeric systemsBlends / composites in recyclingPhysical / chemical crosslinkingMechanical properties

Week 6: Physico-chemical, mechanical and electrical properties of polymersPhysical and chemical agingSolutions: propertiesConducting polymersDielectric responsePlasticityProperties of composites

Week 7: Viscoelasticity in polymersViscoelasticity: introductionThermal responseViscoelasticity: characterizationViscoelasticity – simple modelsDynamic mechanical analysisDamping ApplicationsTime Temperature superpositionImpact and energy absorption

Week 8: Viscoelasticity in polymers / Interaction of polymers with other materialsTesting for applicationsProperties of blendsBiomimetic polymersAdvanced mechanicsViscoelastic response: examplesPolymer packagingPorous polymers / membranesPolymer at interfacesDiffusion in polymers

Week 9: Interaction of polymers with other materials / Polymers processing and recyclingtechniquesCompatibilizersBiopolymer applicationsAdhesives and PaintsDissolution and recoveryPolymerization kineticsPolymerization reactorsPolymer processing

Week 10: Polymers processing and recycling techniquesFlow simulationsProcessing for recyclingRecycle, up-down cyclingFlow behaviour - rheologyCrosslinkingConversion of polymers

Week 11: Polymers processing and recycling techniquesRheology and entanglementRheological modelsRheology and processingAbsorption and leachingSwelling of polymersViscosity for polymer processing

Week 12: Polymeric materials in natureMicroplastics, aerosols, sedimentsBiodegradation of polymersBiodegradable polymers

Taught by

Prof. Abhijit P Deshpande

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