In 1991, the two editors met at a Gordon Research Conference on “Oscillations and Dynamic Instabilities in Chemical Systems”. Of the over 120 participants, we were the only two who were working on polymeric systems. It was our dream that some day we would hold a symposium dedicated to nonlinear dynamics and polymers. This book is a realization of that dream.

This volume is based on presentations made in the symposium “Nonlinear Dynamics in Polymeric Systems held at the 224th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society held August 18-22, 2002 in Boston, which was cosponsored by the Division of Physical Chemistry and the Division of Physical Chemistry. Over thirty participants presented their work.

This volume brings together two fields of science that have, until recently, interacted only rarely. The central role of polymer science in understanding the substances of modern life and, indeed, of life itself is obvious. Nonlinear dynamics is a newer science, but one that has afforded important insights into phenomena in chemistry, physics, mathematics, biology, geology, and even the social sciences. Perhaps because so much of polymer science occurs in an industrial context, where nonlinear behavior such as chaos is typically seen as something to be avoided, even at the cost of suboptimal operating conditions, the amount of cross-fertilization between these areas has been limited. The purpose of this volume is to bring together practitioners in both fields to discuss the progress that has been made in unveiling and exploiting the nonlinear dynamical aspects of polymer systems and to identify problems that merit further study. A “Focus Issue” of the journal Chaos (1) and issue of Macromolecular Symposia (2) provide an earlier look at this subject.

We intend this volume for two audiences: nonlinear dynamicists interested in polymer and polymer researchers interested in learning about nonlinear dynamics. We hope that researchers in each field will be able to appreciate the other field and to become inspired to begin their own research. Barriers currently exist for both groups. Few nonlinear dynamics researchers will have a background in polymers, especially if they come from a mathematical background. Few polymer researchers will know of nonlinear dynamics, especially if they come from a chemistry background. We hope this work will be a tool to bridge the gaps.

It is most exciting that most of the ‘usual suspects’ of nonlinear dynamics are present: temporal oscillations, chemical waves, propagating fronts, bifurcation analysis, spatial pattern formation and the Belousov-Zhabotinsky reaction, and interfacial instabilities. What distinguishes much of the work in this book from usual nonlinear dynamics is the goal of making some useful materials and devices. But even more distinguishes the works. New nonlinear phenomena arise in polymers, such as chemomechanical coupling in gels and phase separation modulated by autocatalytic reactions.
We are optimistic for the future of this field because so many interested works are present even though only a small fraction of polymer science is represented. We are confident that as more polymeric systems are explored with the tools of nonlinear dynamics, more exciting and usual phenomena will be discovered.We hope the work inspires the reader to begin/continue in this new research area.

We would like to thank the Iwatani Foundation for the financial support
of the Symposium.

John A. Pojman, Ph .D.
Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry
The University of Southern Mississippi
Hattiesburg, MS 39406-5043
(601) 266-5035
(425) 740-8514 (FAX)

Qui Tran-Cong-Miyata, D.Eng.
Department of Polymer Science & Eng.
Kyoto Institute of Technology
Matsugasaki Sakyo-ku Kyoto 606

1. Epstein, I.R; Pojman, J.A., eds. Chaos. 1999, 9, 255-347.
2. Nonlinear Dynamics in Polymer Science (PolyNon '99), Khokhlov, A. R.; Tran-Cong-Miyata, Q.; Davydov, V. A.; Semion I. Kuchanov; Yamaguchi, T.,Macromolecular Symposia (vol. 160), Wiley-VCH: Weinheim, Germany, 2000.