Project Details Definitions of terms relating to individual macromolecules, their assemblies, and dilute polymer solutions

Project No.: 
Start Date: 
01 June 2005
End Date: 
14 January 2015
Division Name: 


Remark: This project is a revision of the 1988 IUPAC Recommendations published as Pure Appl. Chem. 61, 211-241 (1989) and also as Chapter 3 of the 1991 “Compendium of Macromolecular Nomenclature” (the Purple Book) > contents

To revise and amend the new terminologies on the IUPAC Recommendation: Definitions of Terms Relating to Individual Macromolecules, Their Assemblies, and Dilute Polymer Solutions (Pure Appl. Chem. 61, 211-241 (1989)). The document, published in 1989, deals with terminology in key areas of the physical chemistry of macromolecules as individual macromolecules, their assemblies and dilute polymer solutions; it includes recommended terminology for molecular weight, molecular-weight averages, distribution functions, radius of gyration, the Flory-Huggins theory, viscosity of solutions, scattering of radiation by polymers, fractionation, etc. Since late 70’s, there has been a rapid progress in understanding the physical properties of macromolecules in concentrated solution and in bulk, which was not matured enough when the document was prepared. Also, it is (required) desirable to take action against some frequently used improper terms. Therefore, it is (necessary) urgent to revise and expand the terminology on the physical properties of macromolecules in solution and publish it as a superseding recommendation, which will also be incorporated in one of the next new editions of the Purple Book.


The document deals with the terminology of macromolecules in solution, individual macromolecules and macromolecular (aggregations) assemblies. Chemical terminology, is (typical and unique field of activity) one of the basic terms of reference of IUPAC. Its update is also of great importance for the recently started project on terminology in separation techniques. The document will include newly introduced terms in the field of physical properties of macromolecules in various states, particularly in concentrated solutions and in bulk.


August 2011 – Discussion at the meeting of the Sub-Committee on Polymer Terminology at the General Assembly in Puerto Rico, August 2011 has led to agreement about the scope of the revision of the original recommendations and completed the final definitions of the terms. The recommendations should be ready in January 2012 for submission to the Polymer Division, for public review, and to the ICTNS.

Feb 2013 – the provisional recommendations titled “Definitions of Terms Relating to Individual Macromolecules, Macromolecular Assemblies, Polymer Solutions and Amorphous Bulk Polymers” was made available for public review until 30 June 2013.

January 2015 – project complete; recommendations published : Definitions of terms relating to individual macromolecules, macromolecular assemblies, polymer solutions, and amorphous bulk polymers (IUPAC Recommendations 2014), Pure Appl. Chem. 87(1), pp. 71-120 (2015),

Page last updated 23 Jan 2015