Condensed matter is composed of strongly interacting molecules, and discussions of the bulk properties of simple low molar mass compounds therefore focus from the beginning on the role of the interaction forces between different molecules in establishing thermal equilibrium. In dealing with polymeric systems, one encounters a different situation. As each macromolecule possesses a huge number of internal degrees of freedom, the analysis of the properties of the individual polymer becomes an important first point of concern. It is obvious that understanding of single chain behavior is a necessary prerequisite for treatments of aggregate properties, but in fact, it implies even more and leads in many cases to a major step forward. There are, of course, effects which are dominated by the intermolecular forces, like the phase behavior of binary polymer mixtures, or the flow properties of polymer melts, but other important phenomena, in particular essential parts of the viscoelasticity, are much under the control of the dynamic properties of the individual molecules. It is therefore quite natural and also necessary, to start a lecture series on polymer physics with a discussion of the conformational states of single chains.
KeywordsEntropy Polyethylene Polystyrene Macromolecule Fluorine
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