Master Degree


Year of erogation: 
Unit Coordinator: 
Disciplinary Sector: 
Industrial Chemistry
Second semester
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Learning outcomes of the course unit

The aim of the course is to teach the following concepts:
Knowledge and understanding: the scope of the course is to provide a general overview on polymer science and on the most relevant aspects of the use of polymers in the field of biotechnology.
The following items will be discussed: the first part will introduce the basic concepts of polymer science. The main characteristics and properties of the polymers will be fully described, as well as the main synthetic processes.
In particular the student will learn the definition of glass transition temperature, melting temperature, crystalline and amorphous polymers, Number and Weight Average Molecular Weight, most common characterization techniques (DSC, TGA).
The student will learn polycondensation and polyaddition reactions and principal polymeric materials deriving from these two polymerization reactions. The student will be familiar with the definition of chain-reaction and step-reaction mechanism and he/she will be able to apply them to obtain the desired material. Knowledge about the principal polymerization techniques, like mass, solution emulsion, suspension, will be given to the student. The frontal lessons will be supported by tutorial videos.
Moreover, the student will be introduced to the concept of biopolymers: definition, synthesis, properties and application in biotechnology.
In the second part of the course, the synthesis and the use of the polymers in the biotechnology field will be described. In particular, the use of polymers as scaffold for the tissue engineering, as drug delivery and polymer therapeutics will be discussed.

Applying knowledge and understanding: in parallel to theoretical explanations, the student will be trained in laboratory practice exercises. The lab experiments will be: (i) synthesis of polystyrene (radical reaction); (ii) synthesis of nylon (polycondensation reaction); (iii) Synthesis of flexible, expanded and rigid polyuretane; (iv) synthesis and characterization of polylactic acid; (v) epoxy resin synthesis; (vi) syntheis of silicone; (vii) synthesis of a rigid polyuretane mould. Moreover, during the academic year, one instructional visit will be performed to an industry of the polymer sector. These activities will train the student to apply and reinforce the concepts acquired.

Making judgments: The student will possibly acquire a complete autonomy in the classification of polymers, based on properties and polymerization techniques. The student will be able to autonomously and critically analyze the most suitable polymer and the required properties for a specific application in the biotechnology field.
Communication and lifelong learning skills: the student should be able to properly communicate using the typical scientific terminology. To this aim, during the oral examination the student will present an article or a review connected to the course contents. The student should be able to present in a proper and critical way the selected argument.


To successfully follow the course and pass the examination it is fundamental to possess most of the knowledge and concepts of Organic Chemistry

Course contents summary

Polymer definition and nomenclature; polymer main properties; definition of polymer crystallinity, solubility, melting point and glass transition point; determination of polymer molecular masses; structures of polymers and their conformation and configuration. Polymer mechanical and rheological properties. Polymer configuration and conformation.
Polymer synthesis and polymerization processes.
Definition of copolymers
Definition of fibres, plastics and elastomers
Polymers from renewable resources and their applications
Polymers in medicine
Polymers for tissue engineering applications
Polymers in pharmaceutical applications

Course contents

Introduction to the polymers. Polymer definition and nomenclature; polymer main properties; principal polymer classes; definition of polymer crystallinity, disposition of the chains in the polymer structure, influence of the crystallinity onto the polymer properties. Semi-crystalline polymers, elasticity and viscoelasticity in the polymers. Definition of the Young Module. Definition of polymer solubility, melting and glass transition temperature; definition and determination of polymer molecular masses; structures of polymers and their conformation and configuration. Polymer mechanical and rheological properties. Polymer configuration and conformation.
Definition of fibers, plastics and elastomers
Polymer synthesis: polycondensation and polyaddition. For polyaddition: radical reactions, ionic reactions, Ziegler-Natta catalysis. Kinetic definition: chain-growth and step-growth polymerization. principal polymerization processes: extrusion, injection-molding, blow-molding, film and fiber production.
Definition of copolymers
Polymers from renewable resources and their applications. Definition of biopolymers, biodegradability and compostability
Polymers in Galenic medicine, drug delivery and gene delivery
Polymers as scaffold for tissue engineering applications
Polymers in pharmaceutical applications

Recommended readings

Slides, handsout and references cited

Teaching methods

During the COVID emergency the lessons will be in presence with the possibility to follw them on-line via Teams. The lab practice will be held in presence at the student labs at the Plesso Polifunzionale in compliance with the Anti-COVID practices. The course also makes use of at least a seminar held by experts to deepen any topics and possibly an educational visit to chemical plants operating in the sectors covered by the course.

Assessment methods and criteria

Oral or on-line (via Teams ONLY during the COVID emergency) examination. The student will present an article/review concerning a particular topic of the course. The student must be able to present with a proper technical language and in a critical manner.