Courses » Principles of Polymer Synthesis

Principles of Polymer Synthesis

This course will introduce and discuss the basic principles of polymer chemistry. Specifically, it will stress upon the fundamentals of important polymerization reactions (emphasis on step polymerization and radical polymerization) and the principles that govern the structure of the resulting polymers. Synthesis and structure-property relation of several industrially important polymers will be discussed illustrating the applications of these principles. The course will also contain an introduction to basic chemical reactor design principles.

  • Chemistry
  • MTech


  • All industries where polymer and polymer products are being designed, developed and used


Rajat K. Das is an Assistant Professor at Materials Science Centre, IIT Kharagpur. His research interests include smart stimuli responsive polymeric materials and multiple network hydrogels. He is taking the course ‘Manufacture of Industrial Polymers’ for 1st year MTech students of the centre.

Week 1: Historical development of polymer science (since the early 20th century), classification of polymers (based upon the structure of polymers/based upon mechanism of polymerization), concept of average molecular weight of polymers, how to determine different averages for molecular weight (specific methods such as gel permeation chromatography, vapour pressure osmometry, viscosity measurement, membrane osmometry etc. will be discussed in some detail).     

Week 2: Step polymerization: Control of molecular weight (stoichiometric excess or monofunctional impurity),number fraction and weight fraction distribution functions, side reactions in step polymerization (cyclization vs linear polymerization, the effect of ring stability and kinetic factor), interfacial polymerization (general principle along with specific examples, applicability).
Week 3: Chain polymerization: general discussion of radical vs ionic polymerization; types of initiators; rate expression for radical chain polymerization, initiator efficiency; different modes of termination (coupling and disproportionation), chain transfer reactions and molecular weight control, autoacceleration, ceiling temperature.

Week 4: Chain polymerization (contd..): Effect of temperature on rate of radical chain polymerization and on molecular weight of polymers, dead end polymerization; Chain copolymerization: terminal model and derivation of instantaneous copolymer composition, concept of reactivity ratio, ideal copolymerization, alternating and azeotropic copolymerization, copolymer composition drift with conversion, experimental determination of reactivity ratio, microstructure of copolymers; Living polymerization methods such as ATRP, NMD,  and RAFT. Discussion of examples from research papers that utilize some of these strategies to obtain specific properties.

Week 5: Design of Chemical Reactors: Different kinds of reactors (batch, CSTR, PFR, PBR etc.), basic mole balance equations and concept of reactor design with respect to the desired outcome of a chemical reaction (sizing of CSTR and PFR with respect to a targeted conversion in steady state), PFRs in series vs CSTRs in series.

Week 6: Design of Chemical Reactors (contd..): Effect of the reactor on the molecular weight distribution in polymerization (radical vs step growth), Selectivity in chemical reaction vs choice of reactor, basic energy balance equation, multiplicity of steady states in CSTR, ignition and extinction temperature, application of these concepts in polymerization.

Week 7: Industrial synthesis and structure-property relation of important engineering step polymers and specialty polymers (week 7 + week 8)

Week 8: Industrial synthesis and structure-property relation of important engineering step polymers and specialty polymers (week 7 + week 8:  polyesters, polycarbonates, epoxy resins, aliphatic and aromatic polyamides, polyurethanes, polyimides etc.); different fiber spinning processes


1. Principles of Polymerization, by G. Odian, Wiley-Interscience
2. Industrial Polymers, Specilty Polymers, and their applications, by M. Chandra and S. K. Roy, CRC Press  

  • The exam is optional for a fee. · 
  • Date and Time of Exams: April 28 (Saturday) and April 29 (Sunday) : 
    Morning session 9am to 12noon. 
  • Exam for this course will be available in one session on both 28 and 29 April.
  • Registration url: Announcements will be made when the registration form is open for registrations.  
  • The online registration form has to be filled and the certification exam fee needs to be paid. More details will be made available when the exam registration form is published. 

  • Final score will be calculated as : 25% assignment score + 75% final exam score  
  • 25% assignment score is calculated as 25% of average of 08 weeks course: Best 6 out of 8 assignments  
  • E-Certificate will be given to those who register and write the exam and score greater than or equal to 40% final score. Certificate will have your name, photograph and the score in the final exam with the breakup. It will have the logos of NPTEL and IIT Kharagpur. It will be e-verifiable at nptel.ac.in/noc.