Polymer solutions are those containing dissolved polymers. Generally, the dissolution process of polymer is often slow.
It is a two-stage process, first solvent molecules come in contact with polymer and swell up (like a gelly).
Secondly, the breakdown (disintegrate) from gel substance slowly to form a true solution the process may take days and days.
The solubility depends on the crystal structure and molecular weight of the polymer. Some polymers like sucrose (sugar) when dissolved in water, the dissolution is immediate.
The solubility of polymers depends not only on physical properties but also on crystal structure such as crystallinity, branching, molecular weight, and cross-linking.
As the molecular weight increases the solubility also increases (direct relationship), the same trend is followed in case of cross-linking there is strong cross-linked polymers which means strong interaction (bonding) between chains and solvent molecules which prevent from losing into the solution.
In the case of branching, the trend is like more branching more is the solubility. Polymeric chains with long branching cause entanglements which make it difficult for chains to combine with solvent molecules.
Hence the rate of dissolution is slower in case of chains containing long branches.
Whenever a polymer is added to the solution, the dispersion forces will start acting between the chains and depending on the characteristics.
If the polymer-solvent interaction is dominating than polymer-polymer interaction, the solvent molecules get absorbed and the entangled chain loosens up resulting in forming a gel.
This indicates that polymeric solutions are viscous. The molecular size of polymer solute is greater than solvent;
Hence the molecules swell up restricting the motion and therefore increasing the intermolecular friction which in turn makes the solution viscous.
Practical applications are used for making glues, fibers, and films. Guar polymer solutions is used in hydraulic fracturing.
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