Institute of Macromolecular Compounds was founded in 1948 by the decree of the Presidium of the Academy of Sciences of the Soviet Union dated July 15 1948, in accordance with the decree of Council of Ministers of the USSR № 2411-737 dated July 7 1947.

The founder and the first director was an outstanding Russian scientist, corresponding member of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR professor Sergey Nikolaevich Ushakov. Prominent Leningrad scientists, experts in polymer chemistry and physics (P.P. Kobeko, S.E. Bresler, M.M. Koton, M.V. Volkenstein, V.N. Tsvetkov, A.A. Vansheidt, N.I. Nikitin, S.N. Danilov, and A.A. Korotkov) led research work in the key areas of polymer science.

S.N. Ushakov developed the principles of applying synthetic polymers in creation of medicinal preparations. M.V. Volkenstein, O.B. Ptitsyn, and T.M. Birshtein developed the rotational isomerism theory. Dynamic behavior of macromolecules was studied by M.V. Volkenstein and Yu.Ya. Gotlib. S.N. Danilov and N.I. Nikitin carried out systematical studies of natural polysaccharides and proposed new synthetic methods for polysaccharide derivatives. The leading researchers developed scientific basis of synthesis of stereoregular polymers by ionic polymerization (B.A. Dolgoplosk, A.A. Korotkov, B.L. Erusalimskii) and synthesis of highly thermostable polymers (polyheteroarylenes) by polycondensation (M.M. Koton). The fundamentals of hydrodynamic, dynamo-optical, electro-optical methods, and polarized luminescence were established and applied to investigations of polymer solutions; flexible-chain, rigid-chain, and mesogenic polymers were systematically studied at the molecular and supramolecular levels (V.N. Tsvetkov, V.E. Eskin, S.S. Skorokhodov, E.V. Anufrieva, M.G. Krakovyak). Theory and methods of liquid chromatography of polymers were developed (B.G. Belenkii). The basics of ion-exchange chromatography of biologically active substances on polymeric sorbents were proposed (G.V. Samsonov). The unique methods were developed that allow to investigate electrical and mechanical properties of polymer microsamples (P.P. Kobeko, G.P. Mikhailov, E.V. Kuvshinskii, M.I. Bessonov, T.I. Borisova). Advances in NMR, IR, and Raman spectroscopy gave rise to a new scientific area – spectroscopy of polymers (V.N. Nikitin, A.I. Kol’tsov, B.Z. Volchek). The theory of orientational crystallization was developed and used as a basis for practical methods of strengthening fibers and films (S.Ya. Frenkel, V.G. Baranov). Organic glasses and special types of glass for supersonic aircrafts were created (I.A. Arbuzova, D.N. Andreev, E.N. Rostovskii).

Scientific schools founded by corresponding members of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR S.N. Ushakov (synthesis of hydrophilic medicinal polymers), M.M. Koton and V.N. Tsvetkov (chemistry and physics of rigid-chain polymers) are still successfully working. Their disciples (E.F. Panarin, V.V. Kudriavtsev, B.A. Zaitsev, G.K. Elyashevich, Yu.N. Sazanov, A.A. Darinskii) and a new generation of scientists (V.M. Svetlichnii, A.M. Bochek, V.E. Yudin, A.V. Yakimanskii, A.V. Tenkovtsev, A.P. Filippov, V.D. Krasikov, A.A. Gurtovenko) develop modern scientific theories. Corresponding member of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Doctor of Physical and Mathematical Sciences, Deputy President of the Russian Academy of Sciences S.V. Lyulin superintends development of a modern scientific area: computer simulations of polymer systems.

Principal scientific achievements and practical results:

  • The complete concept of the synthesis of linear thermotropic liquid-crystalline polymers has been developed.

  • The detailed picture of the behavior of mesogenic rigid-chain polymers in solution has been established; magneto- and electro-optical effects in the liquid-crystalline state have been investigated.

  • Structural research of thermotropic mesophases by spectroscopic, dielectric, mechanical, and other methods has been carried out.

  • The statistical theory of random coil-globule transition in solutions of linear, star-branched, and grafted polymers on matrices with different geometries has been developed. The theory of colloids’ stabilization by grafted polymer chains has been established. Using this theoretical basis, the scientific concepts of graft and linear water-soluble super-high molecular weight polymers and copolymers have been developed.

  • The main features of the structure and properties of super-high molecular weight polymers have been established by optical and hydrodynamic methods. On the basis of fundamental research, methods of synthesis have been developed; highly effective flocculants (ACROMIDAN) and intensifiers of cooling processes have been produced.

  • The study of polymer carriers of biologically active compounds allowed the detection of biological activity of some polymers. On their basis a number of medical preparations have been developed. Antiseptic preparations (CATAPOL, POVIARGOL) and a growth stimulating agent DOXANE have been developed and are being manufactured on industrial and pilot-plant scale. Clinical tests of an antitumoral drug, POGLUCAR, have been completed.

  • A plasma substitute POLYOXYDINE and an oxygen transporting blood substitute GELENPOL have been developed on the basis of synthetic water-soluble polymers and modified proteins.

  • The original technology for obtaining highly purified INSULIN has been developed on the basis of theoretical and experimental investigations of the interaction between organic ions and crosslinked polyelectrolytes. This technology has been implemented in industry.

  • A new concept of the synthesis of different classes of thermally stable, chemically resistant and other thermosetting polymers was developed. It is based on introducing a number of functional groups in acid-catalyzed reactions. In the first stage, monomer-oligomer systems (ROLIVSANS) are obtained and then (after their cure) crosslinked polymers are produced. As a result, a set of polymers and composite materials (thermostable dielectric compounds, binders, adhesives, coatings, composites) with a valuable combination of properties have been synthesized.

  • An alternative method of polyimide synthesis via acid esters of tetracarboxylic acids has been proposed. The reaction mechanism has been studied, the conditions of obtaining highly thermostable engineering plastics reinforced with carbon have been optimized.

  • Super light flame resistant polyimide foams and foam composites for thermal and electrical insulation have been developed.

  • A fundamentally novel method of substances’ separation by high-performance membrane chromatography has been developed jointly with the Institute of Macromolecular Chemistry of Czech Academy of Sciences. Special membranes for analytical purposes have been developed. This method has been introduced into practice.

  • High performance polymer pervaporation membranes for separating mixtures of polar and nonpolar organic liquids have been developed.

  • Microporous highly permeable polyethylene membranes have been obtained. The investigation of conducting polymer layers on the surface of these polyethylene films with the aim of developing new composite membranes for ion exchange has been carried out.

  • Methods of quantitative thin-layer chromatography have been developed.

Institute of Macromolecular Compounds today

Main activities:

Fundamental and applied research and developments in the areas of polymer, organic, physical, bio-organic chemistry, experimental and theoretical physics of macromolecular compounds.

Areas of research:

  • Chemistry of macromolecular compounds, studies of mechanisms and regularities of polymer formation, chemical and structural transformations in macromolecules;

  • Development of principles of creation of functional polymer materials, including high-strength and highly thermostable structural materials and nanocomposites;

  • Theoretical and experimental physics and mechanics of polymers, computer simulations of complex macromolecular systems;

  • Development of fundamentals of synthesis of a new generation biologically active polymers; controlled modification of medicinal and biologically active substances with natural and synthetic polymers for the purpose of using them in medicine, bioengineering, and biotechnology.

The main reference group: «Physical chemistry, chemical physics, polymers»


Institute of Macromolecular Compounds: past and present

Mikhail Vladimirovich Volkenstein

Reminiscences of colleagues and disciples.

To the 100th anniversary of birthday.