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Vol. 29 No. 4
July-August 2007

Conference Call | Reports from recent conferences and symposia 
See also www.iupac.org/symposia

Advanced Materials and Polymer Characterization

by Michael Hess

The annual World Forum on Advanced Materials (POLYCHAR 15) was held in Búzios, Brazil, 16–20 April 2007. The popular Short Course on Polymer Characterization, an education project of the IUPAC Polymer Division, was held the day before.

After being held annually at the University of North Texas, Denton, Texas, USA, the conference—the scope of which has broadened since its original focus on polymer characterization—has been held in a different location each year since 2004. Guimarães, Portugal (2004), Singapore (2005), and Nara, Japan (2006). In 2007 it was held for the first time in South America, about 150 km north of Rio de Janeiro. This was the second conference on advanced materials in South America within one year. Macro 2006 was held in Rio in July 2006 (See Jan-Feb 2007 CI, p. 29).

The conference was organized by Eloísa Mano, professor at the Instituto de Macromoléculas, Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro (IMA/UFRJ). The organizing committee was led by Elizabete Fernandes Lucas, IMA/UFRJ chairperson, and Witold Brostow, honorary president, University of North Texas.

Michael Hess (left), Eloísa Mano, and Moshe Narkis.

IUPAC has sponsored this conference for many years and it is well-known among scientists interested in synthesis, characterization, and properties, as well as processing and theoretical treatment of advanced materials such as novel polymers, blends, composites, and conjugates. Although the meeting was not divided into individual sections and did not have parallel sessions, it covered areas such as nano- and smart materials, surfaces, interfaces and tribology, mechanical properties and performance, synthesis, predictive methods, natural and biodegradable materials and recycling, biomaterials, characterization, and structure-properties relations. This year’s program had a strong focus on nanoscopic system/effects.

There were a total of 181 registered participants from 21 countries: Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Colombia, Croatia, France, Germany, India, Israel, Japan, Lithuania, Mexico, Portugal, Slovakia, South Africa, Thailand, Ukraine, UK, USA, Uzbekistan, and Venezuela. The conference featured 57 oral contributions and 160 posters. Many contributions were presented by students (12 oral presentations and the majority of the posters), which is reflective of the POLYCHAR philosophy of providing an international forum for young scientists and advanced students to present their scientific work, meet with colleagues and well-known scientists, exchange experiences, and make new international contacts. Previous meetings have resulted in many industrial contacts and international cooperation.

Participants at POLYCHAR 15.

A number of awards are offered at POLYCHAR, particularly awards for young scientists (younger than 32) and students. The conference is the platform for the prestigious Paul J. Flory Research Award, and, this year for the first time, the International Materials Science Prize. The Flory Award was jointly awarded to Eloísa Mano, Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, for development of polymer science and education in Brazil, and Jean-Marc Saiter, University of Rouen, France, for his contributions to understanding the physics of the glassy state. Dusan Berek, Polymer Institute of the Slovak Academy of Sciences, Bratislava, Slovakia, was honored with the International Materials Science Prize for his imperturbably critical view on the limits of size exclusion chromatography, which has revealed many of the pitfalls of this popular characterization method and also for developing new methods of liquid chromatographic characterization of polymers.

In addition, IUPAC granted three Student Poster Awards:

  • Gareth M. Bailey, University of Stellenbosch, South Africa, “Investigation of Hybrid Block Copolymers by the Offline Coupling of Chromatographic Fractionation to Various Instruments used in Morphological Characterization”
  • Camila C. Dornelas, Instituto de Macromoléculas Professora Eloísa Mano, Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, “Reactional Evaluation of Formation of PVP-Organophilic Montmorillonite Nanocomposites”
  • Haley E. Hagg Lobland, University of North Texas, Denton, Texas, USA

Given the multitude of excellent oral and poster presentations, it is difficult to mention particular ones without overlooking important contributions.

The Short Course on Polymer Characterization has been an integral part of the conference from the very beginning. It is held on the day before the conference to give attendees—students in particular—a tutorial on important characterization techniques presented by distinguished scientists. The short course provides basic information and recent developments in a condensed form for students, newcomers, and those who want to update their knowledge. The course attracted 119 enrolled participants, 78 of them students. The areas covered included “Liquid Chromatography” (Dusan Berek, Slovakia); “Tribology” (Witold Brostow, USA); “Integrated Rheology and Thermal Analysis” (Abel Gaspar-Rosas, Brazil); “Determination of Polymer Structures by Light-, Neutron-, and X-Ray Scattering” (Jean-Michel Guenet, France); “Viscoelastic and Dynamic-Mechanical Testing” (Michael Hess, Germany); “Electron Microscopy of Polymers” (Goerg Michler, Germany); and “Inorganic Polymers” (Jean-Marc Saiter, France).

A nice feature of the short course is the fact that the lecturers are available for questions and discussions during the whole conference. Due to support from the IUPAC Polymer Division, it was possible to cover the expenses for the hand-outs and to waive the fee for a reasonable number of students.

POLYCHAR 16 will be held at the University of Lucknow, India, 17–21 February 2008. It is being organized by Ram Prakash Singh, vice chancellor of the University of Lucknow <www.polychar16.com>. The short course, which is being organized by Veena Choudhary and Michael Hess, will be held 14 February at the Indian Institute of Technology in New Delhi.

POLYCHAR 17 will be held in 2009 in Rouen, France (Jean-Marc Saiter is organizing), and POLYCHAR 18 will be held in 2010 in Bratislava, Slovak Republic (Dusan Berek is organizing).

Michael Hess <michael.hess@uni-duisburg-essen.de> is a professor at the Universität Duisburg-Essen, in Duisburg, Germany. He is a member of the IUPAC Polymer Division and its subcommittee on polymer terminology and subcommittee on polymer education.


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