Chemistry 142

Physical Chemistry

Spring, 2003

Instructor: Dan Decious

Sequioa 510



Office Hrs.: Monday, Wed 9 - 9:45, 11 - 11:30, 1 - 3 (or later, by appointment)

Tuesday 9 - 11:30, 1 - 1:45

Thursday 9 - 11:30, 1 - 1:30, 5 - 6

Friday 9 - 9:45

By appointment, if necessary; in fact, I'll put my life, in half-hour increments, on the door to my office. If you need some time all to yourself, or for a small group, just sign in to reserve a time.

 The Text, and other helpful devices:

 Physical Chemistry, by Laidler, Meiser, and Sanctuary (4th Edition)

 I'll put some others in the Reserved Book Room in the library; my favorite three are Physical Chemistry, by Walter Moore, Chemical Thermodynamics, by Walter (Blood) Klotz (who was, incidentally, one of Dr. Ritchey's research advisors), and Quantum Mechanics in Chemistry, by Melvin W. Hanna.


One year of Engineering Calculus, equivalent to Math 30 and 31 on this campus, and one year of non-calculus based Physics, equivalent to Physics 5A and 5B here. If you haven’t had these, and would like to stay in the course, please come by for a discussion about the right thing to do. I'm flexible, but I don't want you to get in over your head.

 The course:

So, what is Physical Chemistry? And why does it have all these prerequisites? Well, a clue to the first question can be found by looking up the word, "physical", in the dictionary. It means, "of nature". So P. Chem is the chemistry of nature. That means it tries to explain the following: Everything. That is, it is a discipline that attempts to provide the experimental and theoretical bases for all of chemistry. Every experimental technique, more or less, began in the laboratory of a physical chemist. Every attempt to understand the mechanism of how things work is within the purview of physical chemistry. And that's why we require the math; as Nobel Laureate Richard W. Feynman said, "If it's not mathematical, it's not science". My experience is that a large number of our majors are able to pass eight (or twelve) units of The Calculus and learn damned little, so I'll give a short review of The Calculus near the beginning of the semester. (Didja ever notice that folks don't say The Arithmetic, or The Algebra, but they do say The Calculus? Hmmm...)

 The Subjects:

As the text says, there are three conceptual theories: quantum mechanics, statistical mechanics, and thermodynamics. Since biochemistry deals with systems that are too complicated for an accurate quantum or statistical analysis, most of our time will be spent on thermodynamics, which is the study of energy transfer and chemical equilibrium. However, we will get to delve into quantum mechanics, chemical kinetics, and a tiny bit of statistical thermodynamics.

 The Grading:

Boy, will you get feedback! We'll have weekly quizzes, usually on Fridays, homework, three hour exams, and a final. The points will be as follows:

Quizzes: I'll count the best 10 of 12, at 10 points each.

100 points

Problem Sets

100 points

Hour Exams: (Friday, Feb. 28, Friday, Apr. 4, and Monday, May 12)

300 points

Final Exam: (Wednesday, May 21)

200 points


700 points

 Some Tips:

1 - Don't ever miss class! Every study of academic success has found that class attendance correlates most strongly with good grades. To encourage you, I'll take attendance every class day, and give random (2 point) quizlets, based on reading and previous lectures.


2 - Take the Problem Sets seriously; start them soon enough so you can ask me (or each other) about them if necessary. Besides, letting difficult problems "gestate" in the back of your mind after you have unsuccessfully wrestled with them is one good method of problem solving.


3 - Go over my comments on the graded Problem Sets carefully; they're intended to let you know what I think is important about our discipline.


4 - Pay attention to units, especially SI units. Not only must the units of both sides of any equation be the same, but if A = B + C, A, B, and C must have the same units.


5 - Do as many problems as you can; one of the advantages of our text is that there are several problems in each chapter with provided answers. Do these, and ask about ones that give you difficulty.

 6 - Don't be a stranger. I've got oodles of office hours; there is a reason for this.

Lecture Schedule




Reading, L,M,S



1/27 - 31

Gases; Law of Corresponding States;
Partial Derivatives

Chapter 1, Appendix C;
Sec. 2.2


2/3 - 7

Multi- Dimensional Calculus:First Law of Thermo; work, heat and Energy; ΔHrxn

Sections 2.1-2.5


2/10 - 14

ΔHrxn at T ≠ 398 K, CP vs. CV

Sections 2.6, 2.7, 15.1


2/17 - 21

Predicting C’s from the Equipartition of Energy; Second Law of Thermo

Sections 3.1-3.5


2/25 - 28

Three Criteria of Spontaneity                  First Hour Exam!

Sections 3.6-3.10


3/3 - 7

ΔG from the lab; Maxwell Equations; The Great Equation

Chapter 4


3/10 - 14

Le Chatelier’s Principle; Phase Equilibria; Solution Thermo. (Who’s to blame?)

Sections 5.1-5.5


3/17 - 21

Activities and Activity Coefficients; Colligative Properties

Sections 5.6-5.8


3/24 - 28

DHILL, Redox Thermo, Nernst Eq’n

Sections 7.10-7.13


3/31* - 4/4

Donnan Equilibria; Kinetics;                Second Hour Exam!                                  *No class on 3/31; Chavez’ Holiday

Sections 8.1-8.6, 9.1-9.3


4/7 - 11

Integrated Rate Equations; Law of Connick

Sections 9.4, 9.6-9.10


4/12 - 20

Spring Vacation!!!


4/21 - 25

Ienzyme Kinetics; Theories of kR

Sections 10.1-10.4, 10.9


4/28 - 5/2

“Simple” Quantum Mechanics; the pib

Sections 11.1-11.6


5/5 - 9

The H atom; Viral Theorem; the Variation Principle; Spectroscopy

Section 11.7, 11.8, 13.1, 13.3


5/12 - 16

Third Hour Exam! ; Molecular Spectroscopy

Sections 13.4-13.6


Wed.,May 21

Final Examination


Old Exams