CHEM105: Physical Chemistry I

Course Syllabus for "CHEM105: Physical Chemistry I"

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This course will teach you the fundamentals of thermodynamics. Thermodynamics is the study of energy and its transformations. Energy is a physical property that can be converted from one form to another in order to perform work. For example, a stone rolling down a hill is converting gravitational potential energy into the kinetic energy of motion. Thermodynamics can be applied to systems we use every day—such as, for example, heat pumps and refrigerators, internal combustion engines, batteries, and both electrical and mechanical power generators. An awareness of thermodynamics will help you examine other concepts involving chemical processes more quickly and will enable you to understand why many physical phenomena (such as automobile engines or chemical explosives) work the way they do. The knowledge you will gain in this course also will help you determine how much work an object can put out and predict how to optimize an object’s operation. In this course, you will learn about the laws of thermodynamics; thermodynamic principles; ideal and real gases; the phases of matter; and equations of state and state changes. You also will explore kinetic molecular theory and statistical mechanics, fields that relate the atomic-level motion of the high number of small particles that make up a system to the average thermodynamic behavior of the system as a whole. In this course, you will concentrate on the large-scale, bulk properties of systems that can be described using the principles of classical mechanics. In addition to these large-scale properties, there also are many systems in which small-scale, quantum-mechanical effects influence or dominate the behavior of the system as a whole. These quantum-mechanical systems will be explored in Saylor’s CHEM106: Physical Chemistry II.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this course, you should be able to:

  • state and apply the laws of thermodynamics;
  • perform calculations with ideal and real gases;
  • design practical engines by using thermodynamic cycles;
  • predict chemical equilibrium and spontaneity of reactions by using thermodynamic principles;
  • describe the thermodynamic properties of ideal and real solutions;
  • define the phases of matter; describe phase changes; and interpret and/or construct phase diagrams;
  • relate macroscopic thermodynamic properties to microscopic states by using the principles of statistical thermodynamics;
  • describe reaction rates and perform calculations to determine them;
  • relate reaction kinetics to potential reaction mechanisms;
  • calculate the temperature dependence of rate constants and relate this calculation to activation energy;
  • describe a variety of complex reactions;
  • describe catalysis; and
  • describe enzymatic catalysis.

Course Requirements

In order to take this course, you must:

√    have access to a computer;

√    have continuous broadband Internet access;

√    have the ability and permission to install plug-ins and/or software (e.g., Adobe Reader or Flash)h

√    have the ability to download and save files and documents to a computer;

√    have the ability to open Microsoft Office files and documents (.doc, .docx, .ppt., .xls, etc.);

√    have competency in the English language;

√    have read the Saylor Student Handbook; and

√    have completed at least two semesters of college-level introductory chemistry, two semesters of introductory college-level physics, and two semesters of calculus, including calculating and working with partial derivatives. For a review of the concepts you will need to have mastered for this course, see Saylor’s CHEM101, CHEM102, PHYS101, PHYS102, MA101, MA102, and MA103.

Course Information

Welcome to Physical Chemistry I. General information on this course and its requirements can be found below. 

Course Designers: Edward Perry, Brian Dodson, and Karen Duca
Primary Resources: This course makes use of a range of different free, online educational materials. The structure of this course is built around a series of lectures delivered by Dr. Moungi Bawendi and Dr. Keith Nelson at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology titled “Thermodynamics and Kinetics,” made available by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s OpenCourseWare project. All the lecture notes for this series, as well as some PowerPoint slideshows on kinetics, are available for bulk download at Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s OpenCourseWare website.
This course also makes primary use of the following online textbooks:

Requirements for Completion: To complete this course, you must work through all the assigned resources (including readings, interactives, lectures, videos, and other assignments) and pass the Final Exam with a grade of 70% or higher. Your score on the Final Exam will be tabulated as soon as you complete it. If you do not pass the Final Exam, you may take it again.
Time Commitment: This course should take you a total of approximately 153 hours to complete. Each unit includes a time advisory that lists the amount of time you are expected to spend on each subunit and assignment. These time advisories should help you plan your time accordingly. It may be useful to take a look at the time advisories before beginning this course in order to determine how much time you have over the next few weeks to complete each unit. Then, you can set goals for yourself. For example, Unit 1 should take you approximately 33 hours to complete. Perhaps you can sit down with your calendar and decide to complete Subunit 1.1 (a total of 3 hours) on Monday night, Subunit 1.2 (a total of 12.5 hours) on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday nights, etc.
Tips/Suggestions: For most students, learning thermodynamics is a cumulative process that involves reviewing previously learned material so that foundational concepts are solidified and new ideas and perspectives are discovered with each re-reading. Overall, because many of the readings in this course are theoretical and therefore very dense, you may have to re-read them—or at least certain sections of them—several times to gain mastery of the subject matter. In particular, some of the resources in this course are assigned more than once so that you can take time to review key concepts and/or focus on a particular aspect of an important text. In addition, some readings in this course have been deemed “optional” and are primarily intended to enrich and reinforce material you already have learned. These optional readings do not include time advisories because they are not essential to your completion of this course.

It is recommended that you take comprehensive notes as you complete each reading and assignment in this course. These notes will serve as a useful tool to you as you review course material and study for the Final Exam.

Table of Contents: You can find the course's units at the links below.