MSE 42000 Structure and Properties of Organic Materials

Credits and Contact Hours: 3 credits. Weekly Schedule for 15 weeks: two 75-minute lectures.

Instructors or Course Coordinators: K. Erk.

Textbook: No required textbook.

Specific Course Information

  1. Catalog Description: This course presents information on the chemical and physical structure and basic material properties of organic materials, including synthetic plastics and specialty polymers and surfactants as well as select natural materials (e.g., polysaccharides, proteins, lipids). Fundamental concepts from organic chemistry will be presented along with descriptions of how the chemical and physical structures of organic molecules directly impact the properties of bulk materials over multiple length scales, from the molecular-level to the macroscale. This course will prepare students to be successful in higher-level polymer and soft material elective courses in materials engineering.
  2. Prerequisites: None.
  3. Course Status: MSE 42000 is a required course.

Specific Goals for the Course

1. All Students

A. Describe atomic-scale bonding in organic materials. Examples:

  • When given a molecular formula, students can draw the bond-line diagram for different isomers and identify whether the isomer pairs are skeletal, positional, or functional group isomers.

B. Identify common hydrocarbon units in organic molecules and describe common organic reactions involving those units. Examples:

  • Students can correctly identify functional groups that contain carbonyl groups (aldehyde, ketone, carboxylic acid, ester, amide) and those that do not (alkene, alkyne, aromatic, alcohol, ether, amine, halide).
  • Students can distinguish the differences between common reactions (“ARCHES”): addition, rearrangement, condensation, hydrolysis, elimination, and substitution.

C. Select the appropriate characterization techniques for chemical structures, physical structures, and bulk material properties and interpret basic data from selected techniques.  Examples:

  • Students can use infrared spectroscopy data (e.g., FT-IR data) to identify the functional groups that are present in an organic molecule.
  • Students can describe the basic operation of dynamic light scattering to determine the size of a polymer molecule dissolved in a solvent.
  • Students can use molecular weight fractions determined from size exclusion chromatography measurements (e.g., gel permeation chromatography) to calculate average molecular weights.

D. Explain how macromolecules are synthesized and outline the most common synthesis reactions. Examples:

  • Students understand how monomer are created from both renewable (plants, bacteria) and non-renewable (fossil fuel) sources.
  • Students can describe the similarities and differences between step growth and chain growth polymerization.
  • Students can list and describe the different methods of making polymers in practice, including homogeneous methods (bulk and solution polymerization) and heterogeneous methods (suspension, precipitation, interfacial, emulsion).

E. Display effective oral and written technical communication skills. Examples:

  • End-of-semester project in which students prepare a short oral presentation and written technical report that describes the most important chemical and physical structure-property relationships of a chosen organic material (e.g., Mylar, automobile tires, laundry detergent).
  • Take-home examination in which students assess the content and credibility of primary and secondary sources related to polymer safety (e.g., the leaching of bisphenol A monomer from polycarbonate materials).

F. Properly utilize primary sources and online databases to find information about the structure and properties of organic materials. Examples:

  • Take-home examination in which students assess the content and credibility of primary and secondary sources related to polymer safety (e.g., the leaching of bisphenol A monomer from polycarbonate materials).
  • Number and diversity of credible, primary sources that are cited in the end-of semester project technical report.

2. Most Students

A. Distinguish between chemical and physical structures of organic materials and classify different structures into appropriate material length scales. Examples:

  • Students can explain how polymer chemical configuration (e.g., tacticity, architecture) impacts its physical conformation and assign reasonable length scales to each.
  • Students can calculate extended chain lengths, end-to-end-distances, and radius of gyration using information about a polymer’s repeat unit and its molecular weight (or degree of polymerization) using the appropriate equations and scaling laws.

B. Explain the relationships between an organic material’s chemical structure, physical structure, and its bulk properties, using phenomenon from multiple length scales. Examples:

  • Students can use information about a molecule’s chemical structure (e.g., its structural formula or bond-line diagram, polymer repeat unit) and physical structure (e.g., tacticity, polymer configuration and conformation) to determine the dominant intermolecular forces (e.g., dipole-dipole, London dispersion forces, hydrogen bonding) and what affect those forces have on the bulk properties (e.g., boiling point, viscosity, polymer-solvent miscibility, melting and glass transition temperature, percent crystallinity, density, elastic modulus, fracture toughness, opacity).
  • Specific example: Students can explain the structural differences between low-density and high-density polyethylene materials and how those differences impact the material’s properties (e.g., nanoscale chain architecture encourages the formation of microscale crystalline domains that results in a material with greater macroscale density).

C. Select the appropriate polymerization route to synthesize a desired polymer composition or morphology. Examples:

  • Students know which polymerization routes are prone to autoaccelerate (bulk polymerization, concentrated solution polymerization) and which are not (dilute solution polymerization, suspension polymerization).
  • Students can identify what fractional convergence values (p) must be attained to synthesize polymer with a specific number-average a degree of polymerization (DPn) using step growth polymerization.
  • Students can outline the basic steps of free radical polymerization (a specific type of chain growth polymerization) and understand how the concentration of monomer and initiator impacts DPn as well as molecular weight and the overall polymerization rate.

Relation of Course to Student Outcomes:

(MSE-1, ABET-1) an ability to identify, formulate, and solve complex materials engineering problems by applying principles of engineering, science, and mathematics.

(MSE-3, ABET-3) an ability to communicate effectively with a range of audiences.

(MSE-7, ABET-7) an ability to acquire and apply new knowledge as needed, using appropriate learning strategies.

Topics Covered:  atomic/electronic structure of atoms, isomers, common functional groups, different types of intermolecular forces, common reactions, common examples of polymers, step and chain growth polymerization and related details, different methods of polymerization in practice (bulk, suspension, interfacial, etc.), common methods of chemical characterization, configuration, conformation, relevant length scales and scaling laws, calculation and characterization of molecular weight, polymer microstructure, crystalline vs. amorphous materials, natural/biological materials, special topics such as polymeric gels, rubbers and thin films, rheometry, composites, and surfactants.