Courses » Introduction to Polymer Physics

Introduction to Polymer Physics


This course is an introduction to the physics of polymers, designed for senior undergraduate and postgraduate students. We will discuss statistical-mechanical, thermodynamic, and continuum theories for the structure, dynamics, and rheology of polymeric materials. Emphasis will be on developing a conceptual understanding of the theoretical and simulation methods employed in the study of polymers, and their application to specific systems. This course can be of potential interest to students studying in various disciplines including polymer science, chemical engineering, physics, chemistry, and materials science.

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Final Exam (in-person, invigilated, currently conducted in India) is mandatory for Certification and has INR Rs. 1100 as exam fee.

For undergraduate/postgraduate students in Polymer Science and Engineering, Chemical Engineering, Physics, Materials Science and Engineering, and Chemistry.

CORE/ELECTIVE: Core_Elective

UG/PG: UG and PG

PREREQUISITES: Following courses are desired but not mandatory: Undergraduate courses in computer programming, thermodynamics, fluid mechanics/solid mechanics/continuum mechanics, and engineering mathematics/calculus.

INDUSTRY SUPPORT: Polymer and plastic Industries.


Dr. Prateek Kumar Jha is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering at IIT Roorkee. He did his PhD in Chemical Engineering at Northwestern University, USA, followed by postdoctoral research at University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, USA. His current areas of research interest are molecular simulations, polymer physics, drug delivery, and charged systems.

Week 1 : Macromolecules and Life, Molecular flexibility, Classification of polymers, Types of polymerization, Average molecular weights and polydispersity, Concept of universality
Week 2 : Random walk models in polymer physics: 1-D random walk (drunkard walk), 2-D random walk on a lattice, freely jointed chain, modified freely jointed chain, freely rotating chain
Week 3 : Elastic energy of polymer chain, bead-spring model, ideal polymer chain and finite extension models, radius of gyration, pair correlation function, scattering experiments
Week 4 : Review of programming concepts, Monte Carlo simulations of a polymer chain, Importance Sampling, Metropolis criteria, Practical aspects of Monte Carlo simulation
Week 5 : Excluded volume interaction. Flory theory in good solvent, bad solvent, and theta solvent. Monte Carlo simulations in good solvent and bad solvent regime.
Week 6 : Concentrated polymer solutions. Review of Solution thermodynamics: Mixing and phase separation, osmotic pressure, chemical potential, thermodynamic origin of diffusion.
Week 7 : Lattice model of solutions, Flory-Huggins theory of polymer solutions, Definition of partition function and free energy, binodal and spinodal curve, critical point, extension to polymer blends and melt
Week 8 : Brownian motion, Correlation functions, Time translational invariance and time reversal symmetry, Brownian motion of a free particle, Einstein relation
Week 9 : Brownian motion in a potential field, Introduction to Molecular Dynamics and Brownian Dynamics
Week 10 : Rouse model of polymer chain, normalized coordinates and basis functions, Rouse modes, problems with Rouse model
Week 11 : Review of continuum mechanics: equations of motion, stress tensor, deformation tensor, deformation gradient tensor, constitutive relations of solids, liquids, and rubber. Microscopic definition of stress tensor.
Week 12 : Experimental rheology: rheometers, linear viscoelasticity, superposition principle, relaxation modulus, storage modulus, loss modulus.


1. M. Doi, Introduction to Polymer Physics, Oxford University Press , 1996 
2. M. Doi, Soft Matter Physics, Oxford University Press, 2013 
3. M. Doi and S. F. Edwards, The Theory of Polymer Dynamics, Clarendon Press, Oxford University Press, 1988 
4. Pierre-Gilles de Gennes, Scaling concepts in Polymer Physics, Cornell University Press, 1979 
5. R. G. Larson, Structure and Rheology of Complex Fluids, Oxford University Press, 1998 
6. M. Rubinstein and R. H. Colby, Polymer Physics, Oxford University Press, 2003 
7. I. Teraoka, Polymer Solutions: An Introduction to Physical Properties, Wiley Interscience, 2002
8. F. H. Morrison, Understanding Rheology, Oxford University Press, 2001
9. D. Frenkel and B. Smit, Understanding Molecular Simulations: from algorithm to applications, 2nd Ed, Elsevier, 2001 (available on subscription in ScienceDirect: 
  • The exam is optional for a fee.
  • Date of Exams : October 28(Sunday)
  • Time of Exams : Morning session 9am to 12 noon; Afternoon session: 2pm to 5pm
  • Exam for this course will be available in both morning & afternoon sessions.
  • 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  Best 8 out of 12 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 Roorke.It will be e-verifiable at nptel.ac.in/noc.