CHEM106: Physical Chemistry II

Course Syllabus for "CHEM106: Physical Chemistry II"

Physical Chemistry II is quite different from Physical Chemistry I.  In this second semester of the Physical Chemistry course, you will study the principles and laws of quantum mechanics as well as the interaction between matter and electromagnetic waves.  During the late 19th century and early 20th century, scientists opened new frontiers in the understanding of matter at the molecular, atomic, and sub-atomic scale.  These studies resulted in the development of quantum physics, which nowadays is still considered one of the greatest achievements of human mind.  While present day quantum physics “zooms in” to look at subatomic particles, quantum chemistry “zooms out” to look at large molecular systems in order to theoretically understand their physical and chemical properties.  Quantum chemistry has created certain “tools” (or computational methods) based on the laws of quantum mechanics that make it theoretically possible to understand how electrons and atomic nuclei interact with each other to form any kind of matter, ranging from diamond crystals to DNA strands to proteins to plastic polymers.  Using these tools, quantum chemists can simulate complex biological systems, such as nucleic acids, proteins, and even cells, in order to understand their functions and behavior.  These tools are increasingly used by researchers at pharmaceutical companies as they need to simulate the interaction of a potential drug molecule with the target receptor, such as a protein binding pocket on the surface of a cell.  Scientists use computational tools of quantum chemistry to predict the optical and electronic properties of novel materials to be used in advanced technologies, such as organic photovoltaics (OPVs) for solar energy harvesting and organic light emitting diodes (OLEDs) for electronic displays.  In these applications, scientists can “calculate” the range of sunlight frequencies a certain material can absorb or the color of the emitted light in a pixel fabricated using certain molecules.  Quantum chemistry treats light as both a wave and a particle and uses wavefunctions to describe systems composed by “tangible” matter, such as electrons and nuclei.  A substantial portion of the course is dedicated to the theoretical understanding of the interactions between light (electromagnetic radiations) and matter (molecules, electrons, nuclei, etc.).  These interactions are at the base of modern image techniques used in the medical field, such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). This senior course in quantum chemistry usually serves as an introduction to more advanced graduate courses in theoretical chemistry, rather than concluding your degree in chemistry.  With the knowledge gained in this course, you will be able to calculate the energies of simple systems, such as small molecules.  Keep in mind that these calculations of quantum chemistry are fairly complicated, thus you will learn several approximation techniques to aid your calculations of more advanced molecular systems.  You will also be able to correlate the outcome of your calculation to certain physical properties of the molecule.  In particular, you will learn how the spectroscopy properties are strictly interconnected with the electronic structure of molecules.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this course, the student will be able to:

  • Describe the difference between classical and quantum mechanics.
  • Explain the failure of classical mechanics in elucidating the black body radiation, the photoelectric effect, and atomic emission spectra.
  • Define the wave-particle duality.
  • Define the uncertainty principle.
  • Solve the Hamiltonian for a particle in box, on a ring, and on a sphere.
  • Solve the Schrodinger equation for hydrogen-like systems.
  • Use technique of approximation to compute the Schrodinger equation for polyatomic systems.
  • Describe the difference between the Valence Bond and the Molecular Orbital Theories.
  • Identify the symmetry elements in a molecule.
  • Predict and explain the outcome of electromagnetic radiations interacting with matter.
  • Define Raman spectroscopy.
  • Predict the vibrational spectra of molecules based on their electronic structure.
  • Explain the selection rules for a molecule to be Raman or IR active.
  • Explain the difference between fluorescence and phosphorescence.
  • Describe the principle of operation of LASERs.
  • Explain the effect of magnetic fields on electrons and nuclei.

Course Requirements

In order to take this course, you must:

√    Have access to a computer.

√    Have continuous broadband Internet access.

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

√    Have the ability to download and save files and documents to a computer.

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

√    Have competency in the English language.

√    Have read the Saylor Student Handbook.

√    Have strong skills in mathematics.  Knowledge of using computational software, such as MatLab or Mathematica, will greatly facilitate your work and learning.

√    Have completed the following mathematics courses: multivariable calculus (MA103), linear algebra (MA211), and differential equations (MA221).  Physical Chemistry I (CHEM105) is conceptually very different from Physical Chemistry II (this course), and the scientific concepts learned in Physical Chemistry I are not necessary to understand Physical Chemistry II.  However, it is highly recommended that you take CHEM105 first, so you can master the use of multivariable calculus (partial derivatives) to solve chemistry problems.  Another important prerequisite that some students in college take is calculus-based Physics-Classical Mechanics; the Saylor Foundation offers the algebra-based equivalent of such a course: PHYS101.  Engineering courses such as ME102/ME202 could complement PHYS101.

Course Information

Welcome to CHEM106: Physical Chemistry II.  Below, please find some general information about the course and its requirements.
Primary Resources: This course is comprised of a range of different free, online materials.  However, the course makes primary use of the following materials:

Requirements for Completion: In order to complete this course, you will need to work through each unit and all of its assigned materials.  Pay special attention to Units 1 and 2, as these lay the groundwork for understanding the more advanced, exploratory material presented in the latter units.  You will also need to complete:

  • The Final Exam

Note that you will only receive an official grade on your Final Exam.  However, in order to adequately prepare for this exam, you will need to work through all of the resources in this course.
In order to “pass” this course, you will need to earn a 70% or higher on the Final Exam.  Your score on the exam will be tabulated as soon as you complete it.  If you do not pass the exam, you may take it again.
Time Commitment: This course should take you a total of 124.5 hours to complete.  Each unit includes a “time advisory” that lists the amount of time you are expected to spend on each subunit.  These should help you plan your time accordingly.  It may be useful to take a look at these time advisories and determine how much time you have over the next few weeks to complete each unit and then set goals for yourself.  For example, Unit 1 should take you 18 hours.  Perhaps you can sit down with your calendar and decide to complete subunit 1.1 (a total of 4 hours) on Monday night, subunit 1.2 (a total of 4 hours) on Tuesday night, and so forth.
Tips/Suggestions: As noted in the “Course Requirements,” multivariable calculus (MA103) is a prerequisite for this course.  If you are struggling with the mathematics as you progress through this course, consider taking a break to revisit MA103.