Organic chemistry of macromolecules—An introductory textbook

Organic chemistry of macromolecules—An introductory textbook

BOOK REVIEWS Stereoregular Polymers and Stereospecific Polymerizations The Contributions of Giulio Natta and his school to Polymer Chemistry Volumes ...

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Stereoregular Polymers and Stereospecific Polymerizations The Contributions of Giulio Natta and his school to Polymer Chemistry Volumes I and II Edited by G. NATrA and F. DANUSSO. Pergamon : Oxford, 1967. Vol. I : 466 pp. Vol. II : pp. 467-888. Both vols. 6 in. × 9½ in. £15 15s per set of two volumes WrmN Natta and his co-workers announced in 1954 the preparation of crystalline polymers of propylene and 1-butene, their claim that these were stereoregular was received in many quarters with considerable scepticism. It had been recognized for many years lhat all known synthetic high polymers of asymmetric monomers were stereochemically irregular, and many had assumed that this must always and inevitably be true. Natta's work has by now been so abundantly proved that it is hard to realize how short a time has elapsed from the original discovery. Despite the vast efforts now devoted----especially in industrial laboratories--to the study of stereospecific polymerization, the contribution of Natta's school is massive as well as pioneering. Many of the original papers were naturally published in Italian journals, and the purpose of the volumes under review is to make available in Englisfh a complete record of the work of Natta and his colleagues. Volume I covers the period 1954--58; Volume II, 1958-59; further volumes are promised. The method adopted has been to represent the less important papers by abstracts, but to leave the major papers in their original form (translated if necessary). There is consequently much more repetition than would be acceptable in a specially written text, but by way of compensation the true historical flavour is preserved, and the actual development of ideas and methods remains dearly outlined. Natta's vision and foresight is seen, for example, in a paper written in 1955: 'We believe that the discovery of these new polymerization methods opens a new chapter of stereoisomerism, which should be of considerable practical and theoretical interest . . . . A vast ,new field of research, which is now only just beginning, is opened to chemists. Our research on block and grafted polymers, and on eopolymers, permits one to foresee very important developments. The interest of the new isotactic and syndiotactic polymers is not only theoretical' (p. 73). Prophetic words indeed. This is an unusual publication, but it will find an honoured place on library shelves. If only it were not so expensive many would like to own it, that ~hey might browse at leisure. G. GEE

Organic Chemistry o[ Macromolecules~.4 n Introductory Textbook A. RAVVE. Arnold : London and Marcel Dekker: New York, 1967. 498 pp. 150s WHILE polymers are now of such importance that most chemists work with them at some stage in their career, they are still neglected in many university courses. There are, however, many excellent textbooks in this field and l~hese are now joined by Dr R a w e ' s volume, which has been written as an introduction to the organic chemistry of high polymers for both undergraduates and graduate organic chemists: the work contains only minor excursions into simple physical chemistry. The scope is very broad, ranging from certain aspects of the physical proper.ties of macromolecules, for example crystallinity and transition temperatures, through molecular weight determination to the mechanisms of the principal classes of polymerization reactions and more detailed descriptions of various groups of synthetic and natural polymers. The emphasis is primarily on synthetic macromolecules and some reference is made to most of the known types of organic polymers. There is also some discussion of graft and block eopolymers, the chemical modification of polymers and polymer degradation. In a book of such wide scope the treatment of the various topics must be brief, but they are so numerous that those new to polymer daemistry ma~ ~ . d it difficult to see the subject in adequate perspective: it will probably be of greater interest to someone with some previous experience of the field. 671

BOOK REVIEWS Despite the technological importance of polymers the text deals almost exclusively with scientific aspects, but where industrial practice is mentioned, the references are ofter~ out of date or even misleading. Thus the only reference to the commercial preparation of polystyrene is to bulk polymerization, and it is unlikely that a

plant would be installed today to manufacture acrylonitrile by any of the processes quoted. In general little hint is given of the preferred techniques by which various polymers are actually prepared either in the laboratory or on the industrial scale, and it is perhaps unfortunate that the book does not attempt to convey any real picture of the contrasting physical properties of the many types of polymers mentioned. In a work covering such a wide field, only a selection of literature references can be given but these appear to be well selected and are provided with a good author index. There is an adequate subject index. The number of errors is relatively small but some of these should ~have been eliminated from the proofs: few organic chemists would expect to make acrylamide by reducing acrylonitrile. F. J. WEYMOUTH





The Winter Gordon Research Conferences will be held from 22 January to 2 February 1968 in Santa Barbara, Calif., U.S.A. Requests for additional information and for application forms for attendance should be addressed to D r W. GEORGE PARKS, Director, Gordon Research Conferences, University of Rhode Island, Kingston, Rhode Island 02881, U.S.A.

The Polymer Conference, 29 January to 2 February It is hoped .that ~he following will each present a paper: J. E. Goodrich, H. F. Mark, J. C. W. Chien, F. E. Bailey, F. A. Bovey, W. Heller, J. D. Hoffman, A. R e m b a u m , R. H. Cole, R. A. Mendelsohn, T. L. Smith, J. C. Halpin, W. R. McDonald, D. J. Meier, J. R. Knox, C. L. Sieglatf, C. C. Prince, C. Job, N. W. Tschoegl, W. J. MacKnight, G. Holden, J. L. Zakin, H. L. Frisch, C. L. Segal, A. P. Gray, W. S. Zimmt.

Other Conferences Electrochemistry will be discussed during 22 to 26 January, and the Chemistry of Aging Conference is also scheduled for 22 to 26 January. Finally, it is hoped to arrange a Conference on 29 January to 2 February to deal with Science, Technology and Economic Growth.