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Introduction to polymers

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This free course, Introduction to polymers, examines the use of polymers and demonstrates how their properties are controlled by their molecular structure. You will learn how this structure determines which polymer to use for a particular product. You will also explore the manufacturing techniques used and the how the use of polymerisation can be used to control the structure of polymers.

After studying this course, you should be able to:

  • isolate the key design features of a product which relate directly to the material(s) used in its construction
  • indicate how the properties of polymeric materials can be exploited by a product designer
  • describe the role of rubber-toughening in improving the mechanical properties of polymers
  • identify the repeat units of particular polymers and specify the isomeric structures which can exist for those repeat units
  • estimate the number- and weight-average molecular masses of polymer samples given the degree of polymerisation and mass fraction of chains present.

By: The Open University

  • Duration 20 hours
  • Updated Thursday 26th May 2016
  • Advanced level
  • Posted under Chemistry
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Introduction to polymers


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Polymers are materials composed of long molecular chains that are well-accepted for a wide variety of applications. This unit explores these materials in terms of their chemical composition, associated properties and processes of manufacture from petrochemicals. The unit also shows a range of products in which polymers are used and explains why they are chosen in preference to many conventional materials.

This OpenLearn course provides a sample of level 3 study in Science [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)]

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