Project Details Guide to Terminology of Polymer Characterization

Project No.:
Start Date:
01 January 2017
End Date:
Division Name:


The IUPAC Guide to Terminology of Characterization in Polymer Science provides a short and comprehensive summary of existing IUPAC recommendations and definitions where IUPAC documents are not yet existing correlated with the terminology of techniques to characterize polymeric materials and their properties in a short, easily accessible form as an aid for students, teachers, engineers and researchers to get an overview of the presently available characterization methods and their approved terminology in order to make the IUPAC recommendations more popular in polymers science and education.


IUPAC has produced a number of recommendations that were approved by a large group of international experts and national organizations, finally after public review. However, these documents, published in PAC, are rarely known in the scientific community and a synchronization with web-based sources of information, such as Wikipedia, has only just started as a project. It is frequently observed that in scientific publications and even in textbooks there is not always a proper terminology used.  There is a lack of knowledge in the scientific community about the amount of information (that is freely accessible) from IUPAC sources, and an effective overview is obviously missing.

This project now, aims at a short scheme, summarizing the most important characterization techniques and the corresponding terms with direct links to the documents that were first published in PAC, summarized in the ‘IUPAC color books’, and that are electronically available. In cases where there are no IUPAC documents (not yet) existing provisional definitions will be given to complete the picture. This Guide will provide a rapid overview of the maze of properties and their characterization in polymer science.

This project is one in the sequence of Brief Guides that has started with the very successful Brief Guide to Polymer Nomenclature, PAC 84 (2012) 2167-2169 (project 2008-032-1-400), the Brief Guide to Polymer Terminology (in preparation, project 2012-048-3-400), and the Brief Guide to Polymerization Terminology (in preparation). The Brief Guide to Polymer Characterization will mostly refer to terms treated in the Polymer Division’s documents that are listed in the appendix and the Gold book, the Purple Book, and the Orange Book.


July 2020 update: To bolster the series of brief guides released by IUPAC (e.g. project 2012-048-3-400) here we aim to introduce a Brief Guide to Polymer Characterisation. It will deviate from the structure of earlier brief guides in that it is not based on published IUPAC documents but is a collection of commonly used methods for the characterisation of polymers for practical use. This guide is divided into two parts, namely structural characterisation and behavioural characterisation of polymers. The goal is to provide fast access to polymer characterisation for teachers, students, non-specialists and newcomers to polymer science as well as be a concise manual for researchers and technicians.

Through the use of two disparate tables, the intention is to enable the reader to navigate from the polymer property that one wishes to measure to the technique(s) required to measure it, and vice versa. This is a starting point for users and is not a comprehensive operating manual of all of the characterisation techniques that are available. The first of the two tables will focus on the structural characterisation of polymers (i.e. molecular and multi-molecular aspects), whereas the second will comprise techniques used to probe the performance or behaviour of the polymer material itself.

A draft of the Brief Guide has been constructed, where the first table is almost complete and the second table is currently being edited.

Page last updated 28 July 2020