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Published December 12, 2017 | public
Journal Article

50th Anniversary Perspective: Polymer Conformation—A Pedagogical Review


The study of the conformation properties of macromolecules is at the heart of polymer science. Essentially all physical properties of polymers are manifestations of the underlying polymer conformations or otherwise significantly impacted by the conformation properties. In this Perspective, we review some of the key concepts that we have learned over nearly eight decades of the subject and outline some open questions. The topics include both familiar subjects in polymer physics textbooks and more recent results or not-so-familiar subjects, such as non-Gaussian chain behavior in polymer melts and topological effects in ring polymers. The emphasis is on understanding the key concepts, with both physical reasoning and mathematical analysis, and on the interconnection between the different results and concepts.

Additional Information

© 2017 American Chemical Society. Received: July 17, 2017; Revised: October 20, 2017; Publication Date (Web): November 16, 2017. I thank Alexander Grosberg, Timothy Lodge, Michael Rubinstein, Sergey Panyukov, Jack Douglas, Nitash Balsara, and Kevin Shen for helpful discussions and Alexander Grosberg, Masao Doi, Karl Freed, and Jian Qin for detailed comments and suggestions on the manuscript. Special thanks go to Kevin Shen, Umi Yamamoto, and Pengfei Zhang for help with the figures and other technical assistance. The author declares no competing financial interest.

Additional details

August 19, 2023
October 17, 2023