Chemistry 401

CHEM 401
Physical Chemistry

1. Catalog Entry

CHEM 401
Physical Chemistry

Credit hours (4)
Prerequisites: CHEM 102, MATH 152, and PHYS 112 or 222

The objective of this course is to cover the basic principles of physical chemistry focusing on an introduction to thermodynamics and chemical kinetics.  
 
2. Detailed Description of Course

In thermodynamics, we will start with an understanding of the fundamental laws of nature and develop models to describe physical and chemical phenomena including an understanding of the physical behavior of homogeneous gas, liquid and solid systems, a description of the thermodynamic states of both homogeneous and heterogeneous systems, and ultimately develop models to understand the equilibrium state in reacting chemical systems.

In kinetics, we will apply the basic kinetic models often used to describe reacting systems and then expand these to help understand more complex kinetic systems with an emphasis on the ability to predict kinetic behavior and model experimental results.

The following topics are covered in the order given:
    1) Properties of gases (gas laws and equations of state for ideal and real gases, kinetic theory of gases), condensed phases.
    2) First law of thermodynamics (work, heat and internal energy, heat capacity, enthalpy total differentials, thermochemistry).
    3) Second and third Laws of thermodynamics (entropy and entropy changes), Helmholtz and Gibbs energies.
    4) Physical changes of pure substances (phase rule, phase boundaries, phase stability and phase diagrams).
    5) Solution thermodynamics (partial molar quantities, thermodynamics of mixing, chemical potentials, activities, activities of ions, colligative
       properties).
    6) Physical changes in heterogeneous systems (thermodynamics of two-component systems, liquid-vapor, liquid-liquid, and liquid-solid phase
       diagrams, ternary phase diagrams).
    7) Chemical equilibrium (Gibbs energy and spontaneity of chemical reactions, the response of equilibria to experimental conditions, and equilibrium
       electrochemistry).
    8) Chemical kinetics (rate laws, temperature dependence of reaction rates, mechanisms and rate laws and determination of the rate law, catalysis,
       and applied kinetics).

3. Detailed Description of Conduct of Course

The course emphasizes problem solving. A major goal is to provide an environment in which each student can develop an effective means of identifying, analyzing, and ultimately solving complex problems.  

Homework problems are assigned each week, and the students are expected to spend a substantial amount of time solving them. Success on the tests and the exam is directly related to the amount of effort made in the solution and understanding of homework problems. These often require calculus and one of the course goals is for the student to apply advanced mathematics to help solve problems. Calculus based derivations are often demonstrated to illustrate how important working equations can be obtained from basic principles and mathematics.

Students work in groups of 2-3 in the laboratory, and the analysis of experimental data is usually a collaborative effort.  Students will conduct both introductory experiments and more in-depth investigations requiring use of the literature, advanced instrumentation, and new techniques in data acquisition and analysis. Short technical reports will be required for introductory experiments, while more involved experiments and student projects will require a full scientific paper (ACS manuscript format) and may require poster or oral presentations.

4. Goals and Objectives of the Course

After successful completion of this one semester physical chemistry course, the student will be able to:
    1) Understand the basic principles of chemical thermodynamics and chemical kinetics.
    2) Appreciate how the working equations used in this course and in previous chemistry courses can be derived from fundamental principles and
       mathematical methods.
    3) Solve complex chemical problems in a logical manner utilizing calculus when appropriate  
    4) Utilize a variety of experimental techniques and instrumentation to obtain both chemical and physical data, analyze the data logically using the
       appropriate mathematical models and  statistics, and present experimental results in the appropriate technical report.

5. Assessment Measures

Assessment of the student's success in the course is based on the grades for three tests, the final exam, assigned homework problems, laboratory reports, and weekly quizzes. The weekly quizzes are announced and cover the previous week's work. The tests, exam, quizzes, and homework are used to assess student outcomes C1., C2., and C3. Laboratory reports and homework exercises are used to assess outcome C4.

6. Other Course Information

None.

Review and Approval

April 2009