This introductory physical chemistry course examines the connections between molecular properties and the behavior of macroscopic chemical systems.
Statistical Molecular Thermodynamics is a course in physical chemistry
that relates the microscopic properties of molecules to the macroscopic behavior
of chemical systems. Quantized molecular energy levels and their use in the
construction of molecular and ensemble partition functions is described.
Thermodynamic state functions, their dependence on the partition function, and
their relationships with one another (as dictated by the three Laws of
Thermodynamics) are all examined in detail. Analysis and demonstration takes
place primarily in the context of ideal and real gases. This eight-week course
covers slightly more than half of a typical semester-long course in chemical
thermodynamics. Typical topics to be addressed subsequently would be phase
equilibria, liquids, solutions of non-electrolytes and electrolytes, and
chemical reaction equilibria.
who successfully complete the course will be able to predict how
changes in molecular properties will influence the macroscopic behavior
of those substances; they will understand the relationships between
energy, heat, and work, and be able to predict how much work can be
extracted from a given chemical process under various sets of
conditions; they will understand the role of entropy in physical and
chemical processes; and they will be able to engineer conditions to make
chemical reactions spontaneously favorable (or not). Students will also
become adept with differential calculus as a tool to derive and
manipulate relationships between connected thermodynamic variables and
Overview of thermodynamics and its importance and utility.
Molecular energy levels from quantum mechanics.
Ideal gases; Equations of state; PV diagrams.
Gases and liquids; Corresponding states.
Dispersion; Intermolecular interactions; Real gases.
Boltzmann probability and connection to energy; Ensemble properties.
Heat capacity; Partition functions.
Atomic and molecular partition functions; Connections to quantum mechanics (statistical thermodynamics).
Electronic and translational partition function for gases; Rovibrational partition functions.
First law of Thermodynamics; Energy; PV Work; State functions.
Adiabaticity; Reversibility; Heat and work.
Enthalpy; Heat capacity redux; Heat of transition.
Enthalpy of chemical reaction; Heat of formation; Standard-state enthalpy.
Second law; Order/disorder; Entropy.
Spontaneity and entropy; Statistical thermodynamics and entropy; Reversibility.
Entropy and the interconversion of heat and work; Entropy and the partition function.
Third law; Temperature limits; Perfect crystals; Phase transitions.
Experimental determination of third-law entropies; Standard-state entropy.
Helmholtz and Gibbs free energies; Ensemble conditions.
Maxwell relations; Ideal gas state functions; Independent variables.
Gaseous standard state; Gibbs-Helmholtz equation; Fugacity.
One year of college-level physics. One year of college-level general chemistry. Differential calculus of multiple variables.
There are many textbooks available for introductory thermodynamics. While students will not
need to have such a textbook in order to follow this course, one with a development that is closely aligned with the material covered is Molecular Thermodynamics
by McQuarrie and Simon, ISBN 1-891389-05-X.
Course content will consist of lecture videos focusing on foundational material as well as practical demonstrations designed to illustrate more fully particular points. PDF copies of slides employed in videos are also provided. Embedded throughout the course at regular intervals will be problems for students to solve, with answers provided in detail either immediately or after a graded assessment.
A key goal of the course is to acquaint and familiarize students with material that is likely to be novel to them, engaging the assigned problems will be critical to successful learning. Lectures will include discussion of optimal strategies for addressing problems and exercises.
Will I get a Certificate of Accomplishment for this course?
Yes. Students who complete the course will receive a Statement of Accomplishment signed by the instructor.