MSE 525 Structure-Property Relationships of Engineering Polymers

Sem. 1 or 2. Class 3, cr. 3. Prerequisites: MSE 230 or equivalent, and junior or senior standing in engineering or science

This class will study structure-property relationships in engineering polymers as it regards bonding and structure (amorphous and crystalline), as well as mechanical properties including viscoelasticity, yield phenomena, and fracture. Melt processing or forming of polymers will be discussed. Interpretation of thermal analysis results (thermogravimetric, differential scanning calorimetry, and dynamic mechanical testing) will also be presented.


Students should be aware of the basic advantages and limitations of common engineering polymers. Specifically, they should now how polymer structure affects thermal, mechanical, and processing properties. Students should be capable of making assessments of material applicability.

Relation to Program Objectives and Outcomes:

1. an ability to apply knowledge of mathematics, science, and engineering to problems in materials engineering.
5. an ability to identify, formulate, and solve engineering problems, particularly in the context of materials selection and design.
7. an ability to exhibit effective oral and written communication skills.


A successful student should be able to:

  • Be able to identify microstructural differences between thermoplastic, thermosetting, and elastomeric polymers and how these affect thermal and mechanical properties.
  • Be able to discuss the crystalline structures of thermoplastic polymers, including nucleation and growth of spherulitic structures and how molecular weight, tacticity, and cooling rate affect the morphology of the crystals.
  • Be able to discuss entropy elasticity as it relates to elastomeric behavior.
  • Be able to compare and contrast the yield and fracture behavior of polymers with metallic and ceramics materials.
  • Explain viscoelasticity from a microstructural viewpoint, and its manifestations in polymeric mechanical behavior, including mathematical modeling of creep and stress relaxation behaviors of simple and complex systems.
  • Interpret the results from common thermal characterization (TGA, DSC, DMA) techniques and relate them to polymer structure.
  • Discuss polymer melt-processing techniques of extrusion and injection molding, and how polymer chain morphology affects processing.


This course is taught based on having three lectures per week.


These tasks will be assessed by homework problems, in-class and final examinations, and a term paper.

Reference Only

  • Introduction to Polymers by R.J. Young, 1st or 2nd Ed., Chapman and Hall, ISBN 0-412-22180-2.
  • Polymeric Materials: Structure – Properties – Applications, by Gottfried W. Ehrenstein, 1st Ed. (2001), Hanser Gardner, ISBN 3-446-21461-5.
  • Introduction to Physical Polymer Science, by L.H. Sperling, 3rd Edition (2001). John Wiley & Sons, ISBN 0-471-32921-5.
  • An Introduction to Mechanical Properties of Solid Polymers, by I. M. Ward and J. Sweeney, 2nd Edition (2004). John Wiley & Sons, ISBN 0471-49626X.


R. W. Trice