Polymeric materials are ubiquitous in our society, from nature-made proteins and polysaccharides to synthetic plastics and fibers. Their applications range from day-to-day consumables to high-performance materials used in critically demanding areas, such as aviation, aerospace, and medical devices. The objective of this course is to provide an introductory overview on the field of polymer science and engineering. Students will learn some basic concepts in polymer synthesis, characterization, and processing. With the basic concepts established, industrial applications of polymeric materials will be discussed in two categories: structural polymers and functional polymers. Structural polymers, including plastics, fibers, rubbers, coatings, adhesives, and composites, will be discussed in terms of their structure, processing, and property relationship with a flavor of industrial relevant products and applications. Future trends in developing environmentally friendly polymers from renewable resources (green polymer chemistry) will also be covered. Lectures on functional polymers will focus on their unique properties that are enabled by rational molecular design, controlled synthesis, and processing (e.g., supramolecular assembly and microfabrication). This class of specialty materials can find their use in high-performance photovoltaics, batteries, membranes, and composites and can also serve as smart materials for use in coatings, sensors, medical devices, and biomimicry.
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