An Undergraduate Laboratory Module Integrating Organic Chemistry and Polymer Science

Arya Patel, Michael Arik, Amrita Sarkar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Polymer science is receiving wider acceptance in the organic chemistry community; thus, it is imperative to include it in the undergraduate organic chemistry curriculum. Despite the ever-increasing popularity of the topic of polymer chemistry in undergraduate curricula, a comprehensive laboratory experiment module describing a polypeptide synthesis by ring-opening polymerization of N-carboxyanhydride (NCA ROP) and a homopolymer synthesis by activators-regenerated by electron-transfer for atom transfer radical polymerization (ARGET ATRP) has yet to be proposed. Herein, we report a semester-long, ten week undergraduate laboratory module focusing on the synthesis and analytical characterization of polyalanine and polystyrene for an advanced organic chemistry class. Students received hands-on-experiences in synthesizing polymers followed by their characterization via proton nuclear magnetic resonance (1H NMR) spectroscopy, electrospray ionization-mass spectrometry (ESI-MS), gel permeation chromatography (GPC), thermogravimetry (TGA), differential scanning calorimetry (DSC), and transmission electron microscopy (TEM), which are not well-presented in the typical organic chemistry curricula. These engaging hands-on lessons in the newly designed laboratory module not only increase students’ interests in an interdisciplinary environment of organic chemistry and polymer science but also cultivate their research interests and communication skills and promote critical thinking.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1686-1695
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Chemical Education
Issue number4
StatePublished - 9 Apr 2024


  • Communication/Writing
  • Hands-on Learning
  • Laboratory Instruction
  • Polymer Characterization
  • Polymer Synthesis
  • Upper-Division Undergraduate

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