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FCK3107 Polymer Physics including Polyelectrolytes I 6.0 credits

This course presents fundamental polymer physics with a special focus on polyelectrolytes, which together is one of the true foundations of polymer science and engineering. It includes the basic concepts in polymer science, bonds, molar mass concepts, chain conformation, rubber elasticity, polymer solutions, polyelectrolytes, glassy polymers and semicrystalline polymers. The course is based on a textbook written by one of the teachers.

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Headings with content from the Course syllabus FCK3107 (Autumn 2020–) are denoted with an asterisk ( )

Content and learning outcomes

Course contents

  • An introductory overview of polymer science
  • Chain conformations
  • Rubber elasticity
  • Polymer solutions
  • Polyelectrolytes
  • Glassy state of polymers
  • Semicrystalline polymers

Intended learning outcomes

After completion of the course the doctoral student should have the knowledge and ability to

  • demonstrate for the level of the course adequate acquired knowledge in the specialized topics of the course.
  • design, plan and carry out a project to address a scientific problem by experiments and, if necessary, a simulation/modeling study within the frame of the scientific field.
  • present and interpret the results of own research on the basis of the fundamental knowledge provided in the course.

Course disposition

Lectures, textbook reading with exercises (solutions), written exam.

  • An introductory overview of polymer science: fundamental concepts in polymer science, primary and secondary bonds including potential functions, the molar mass concept in polymer science, an overview of structures and phase transitions in polymers, and the history of polymer science and engineering (Chapter 1).
  • Chain conformations: theta-state, conformations of polymers in crystals, conformations including scaling laws of polymers in different solvents (good, theta and poor) and in the molten state (the Flory theorem), models describing global dimensions of polymer coils, and finally the random-flight analysis (Chapter 2)
  • Rubber elasticity: thermodynamic relationships including a simple description of entropy and enthalpy forces, statistical mechanical models (affine network and phantom network), real polymer networks – loose chain ends, trapped entanglements (Langley model), Flory-Rehner model, and finally an overview of then more novel models (Chapter 3).
  • Polymer solutions: the regular solution model, definition of different phase separation mechanisms including nucleation-controlled growth and spinodal decomposition, the Flory-Huggins theory, concentration-regimes according to de Gennes, the solubility parameter concept, and an overview of the equation-of-state models (Chapter 4).
  • Polyelectrolytes: theories, solutions and gels (Chapter 2, Section 2.12; text by Wågberg)
  • Glassy state of polymers: The glass transition temperature and its dependence on molecular structure and architecture, the free volume concept, plasticisation, physical ageing – phenomenology, models and theory, sub-glass processes, molecular interpretation of the glass transition, and the structure of glassy polymers (Chapter 5).
  • Semicrystalline polymers: polymer crystallography, the crystal lamella – sectors, chain folding and lateral habit, superstructures (spherulites, axialtites and oriented superstructures) and how they are related to the lamellar structure including the segregated structures, crystallinity, melting point and how it is related to crystal thickness (Thomson-Gibbs equation), crystallization kinetics – different classes of theories (overview), kinetics growth theories, and finally an overview of the theories including a critical metastable phase (Chapters 7 and 8).

Literature and preparations

Specific prerequisites

Eligible for studies at the third-cycle level but with the further requirement of passed fundamental courses in polymer science.

Recommended prerequisites

Introductory polymer science and engineering and thermodynamics.


No information inserted


Fundamental Polymer Science,  Ulf W. Gedde and Mikael S. Hedenqvist, Springer Nature, New York (2019).

Lars Wågberg: Compendium and material from a few other sources.

Examination and completion

If the course is discontinued, students may request to be examined during the following two academic years.

Grading scale

P, F


  • TEN1 - Written exam, 6,0 hp, betygsskala: P, F

Based on recommendation from KTH’s coordinator for disabilities, the examiner will decide how to adapt an examination for students with documented disability.

The examiner may apply another examination format when re-examining individual students.

In addition to the written exam, individual project tasks are performed and presented.

Opportunity to complete the requirements via supplementary examination

No information inserted

Opportunity to raise an approved grade via renewed examination

No information inserted


Profile picture Lars Wågberg

Ethical approach

  • All members of a group are responsible for the group's work.
  • In any assessment, every student shall honestly disclose any help received and sources used.
  • In an oral assessment, every student shall be able to present and answer questions about the entire assignment and solution.

Further information

Course web

Further information about the course can be found on the Course web at the link below. Information on the Course web will later be moved to this site.

Course web FCK3107

Offered by

CBH/Fibre and Polymer Technology

Main field of study

No information inserted

Education cycle

Third cycle

Add-on studies

No information inserted


Lars Wågberg, Ulf Gedde (

Supplementary information

The course replaces the course F3E5054; 6.0 credits

Postgraduate course

Postgraduate courses at CBH/Fibre and Polymer Technology