To the biochemist, water is, of course, the only solvent worthy of consideration, because natural macromolecules exhibit their remarkable conformational properties only in aqueous media. Probably because of these remarkable properties, biochemists do not tend to regard proteins, nucleotides and polysaccharides as polymers in the way that real polymer scientists regard methyl methacrylate and polyethylene. The laws of polymer statistics hardly apply to native biopolymers. Between these two powerful camps, lies the No-man's land of water soluble synthetic polymers: here, we must also include natural polymers which have been chemically modified. The scientific literature of these compounds is characterized by a large number of patents, which is usually a sign of little basic understanding, of 'know-how' rather than of 'know-why'. Many of the physical properties of such aqueous solutions are intriguing: the polymer may be completely miscible with water, and yet water is a 'poor' solvent, in terms of polymer parlance. ~kiny of the polymers form thermorever- sible gels on heating or cooling.
The phenomena of exothermic mixing and salting-in are common features of such systems: neither can be fully explained by the available theories. Finally, the eccentric behaviour of polyelectrolytes is well documented. Despite the lack of a sound physico-chemical foundation there is a general awareness of the importance of water soluble vinyl, acrylic, polyether, starch and cellulose derivatives, as witnessed again by ~he vast patent literature.
1. The Interface between the Chemistry of Aqueous Polymer Solutions and Their Application Technology.- 2. The Rheological Characterization of Concentrated Solutions and Gels of Water Soluble Polymers.- 3. Methods of Polymerization for Preparation of Water Soluble Polymers.- 4. Water Sensitive Chemically Cross-linked Gels.- 5. Chemical Modification and some Cross-linking Reactions of Water Soluble Polymers.- 6. Thermoreversible Gelation.- 7. Solution Thermodynamics of Non-ionic Water Soluble Polymers.- 8. Fractionation and Characterization of Water Soluble Polymers.- 9. Water Solubility and Sensitivity-Hydration Effects.- 10. Aqueous Solutions of Polyelectrolytes.- 11. Polymer-Small Molecule Interactions.- 12. Excluded-Volume Interactions of Neutral Polymers in Solution.- 13. Polymer Adsorption.- 14. The Role of Polymers in the Stabilization of Disperse Systems.- 15. Water Soluble Polymers in the Stabilization of Dispersions, including Polymerizing Systems.- 16. Medical and Pharmaceutical Applications of Water Soluble Polymers.- 17. Some Properties of Polyvinyl Alcohol and their Possible Applications.- 18. Polymeric Flocculants.- 19. Polymers in Oil Recovery and Production.