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Chemical Education Today

Book & Media Reviews


rally occurring polymers such as chitin and chitosan have been added while the treatment of commodity thermoplastics has been moved into Chapter 9. Being a proponent of the physical aspects of polymer science, I was disappointed in the lack of depth in the discussion of polymer characterization. For example, the scant three and a third pages on viscometry are insufficient to provide my physical chemistry students the background necessary to prepare the introductions to their viscometry lab reports. Where more detail is provided, it varies from formulaic to excellent in quality. One particular highlight was the treatment of viscoelasticity, where the material was presented in a clear and comprehensive manner. Polymer Science and Technology seems to be trapped in the void between the text and reference realms. Unfortunately, it fills neither niche. (As part of Prentice Halls Professional Technical Reference series, this problem may be unavoidable.) As a textbook, the 99 end-of-chapter questions, spread unevenly throughout the chapters, provide little pedagogical value. (Five of the chapters account for 69 of the questions.) Since the book does not include answers, the questions are of little use to the student for review. This is especially true for the quantitative questions where extraction of the answer from the text is indirect. Inclusion of the final answers for numerical problems would be a welcome change in future editions. As a reference work it lacks depth. Nowhere is this as clear as in Chapter 10, Engineering and Specialty Polymers, where nine classes of engineering polymers are covered in 14 pages. With universal accessibility to the Internet, the inclusion of such brief overviews is questionable. Will two paragraphs on poly(phenylene sulfide) really satisfy your appetite when you can instantly access thousands of Web pages via a Google search? While Polymer Science and Technology has its flaws, it also has some very attractive aspects. I particularly liked the inclusion of an appendix listing the relevant ASTM standards for plastics and rubbers. The layout is extremely crisp and easy to read. The figures and tables are also well above average in clarity and utility. Each undergraduate polymer course is unique and fills its own niche. This new edition of Frieds text does not fill mine. As a text I find it to be a bit thin in the basics. There is simply not enough room to provide comprehensive coverage on all of the chosen topics in the given space. As a reference source it once again suffers for its generality. If you are looking for a brief overview of the entire polymer field, however, this might be the book for you. Shawn B. Allin is in the Department of Chemistry, Physics, & Engineering, Spring Hill College, 4000 Dauphin Street, Mobile, AL 36608-1791; sallin@shc.edu

Polymer Science and Technology, 2nd Edition by Joel R. Fried


Prentice Hall Professional Technical Reference: Upper Saddle River, NJ, 2003. 582 pp. ISBN 0130181684. Price: $133.33 Reviewed by Shawn B. Allin

Undergraduate courses in polymer chemistry/science typically fall into one of two categories. The first stresses synthetic aspects while the second focuses on physical properties and how they may be controlled through molecular structure. Its easy to determine the path a course will follow by looking at the instructors background. Faculty members trained in organic chemistry tend to fall into the first, while physical chemists, materials scientists, and chemical engineers lean towards the second. This new edition of Joel R. Frieds book, Polymer Science and Technology, clearly falls into the latter. Of course, this division is overly simplistic. Any introductory polymer course worth its weight average molecular weight will incorporate a breadth of topics including both synthesis and physical properties. The question is the depth at which these topics are explored. Focusing on the physical aspects of polymer science should, in my opinion, include a thorough discussion of the basic science and not simply skim the surface. Unfortunately, Polymer Science and Technology does not consistently delve into the finer details. The book begins with a brief Introduction followed by eleven chapters: Polymer Synthesis; Conformation, Solutions, and Molecular Weight; Solid-State Properties; Viscoelasticity and Rubber Elasticity; Polymer Degradation and the Environment; Additives, Blends, and Composites; Biopolymers, Natural Polymers, and Fibers; Thermoplastics, Elastomers, and Thermosets; Engineering and Specialty Polymers; Polymer Processing and Rheology; and Polymers for Advanced Technologies. While this ambitious list of chapter titles is admirable, the difficulty in doing them justice in a mere 582 pages is severe. Changes from the first edition are relatively minor. Recent advances such as those in metallocene catalysis, atom transfer radical polymerization, plasma polymerization, genetic engineering, and the use of super-critical fluids as solvent have been added to the chapter on synthesis. Likewise, a brief section on dynamic calorimetry has been added to the chapter on viscoelasticity. Other minor changes include expanded treatment of biodegradable polymers, and the electrical and optical applications of engineering polymers and new sections on nanocomposites, barrier polymers, dendrimers, hyperbranched polymers, and amorphous PTFE. The largest changes involve a reworking of Chapter 8 where natu-

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Vol. 81 No. 6 June 2004

Journal of Chemical Education

809