Free Radical Polymerization Module

Recomended Reading

Before you begin with this laboratory unit, you should make sure you understand the chemistry behind the reactions you will be performing. The most entertaining way to do this is by reading the following fun and informative pages from The Macrogalleria!

You may also find it beneficial to review Chapter Three (pages 198 - 334) in Principles of Polymerization by George Odian.

Before you perform the lab, you should go to the library. Why you ask? All research begins with a trip to the library to search for literature on the research topic. This is to help guide your research and give you ideas of ways to approach the problem before you. So that you may begin to learn how to perform this important research technique, we ask that you visit the library, and find an article on free-radical polymerization in one of the Chemistry or Polymer Science journals in the library. You should then read this paper and write a short summary of what was contained therin. This summary should be handed in to your lab TA before you begin the experiment. This amy seem like a chore now, but when you get the hang of it, you will see the benifit, and may even enjoy learning.


The goal of this lab is to train you, the enthusiastic lab student, how to synthesize a vinyl polymer by free-radical polymerization and characterize it to determine its structure and properties.


Click on an objective to view the corresponding method.
  1. Synthesize a vinyl polymer by free-radical polymerization
  2. Determine the rate of polymerization by dilatometry
  3. Estimate polymer molecular weight by dilute solution viscosity
  4. Determine polymer structure by FTIR spectroscopy
  5. Determine polymer tacticity by NMR spectroscopy
  6. Determine polymer Tg and percent crystallinity by DSC
  7. Determine polymer molecular weight by SEC/light scattering

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