Skip to content. | Skip to navigation

Personal tools
You are here: Home > Classes > Physical Chemistry 1 > Old Syllabi > Syllabus on the web

Syllabus on the web

by Jonathan Gutow last modified Jun 28, 2017 09:10 AM
— filed under: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Fall 2013 version.

Class Web Site:


Course Overview: Physical chemists and physicists make extensive use of mathematical models to describe natural phenomena. The underlying assumption is that the universe has an organization that can be expressed as a function of certain parameters. This semester we will concentrate on developing the models that describe the bulk thermodynamic and equilibrium properties of matter. We will make the connection between the microscopic (molecular level) properties of substances and these bulk properties using results from quantum mechanics.

You should be able to use these models to predict the behavior of matter. This means both estimating the range in which a measurement will fall and solving mathematical story problems, using approximations where valid. A summary list of the models and the types of systems to which you should be able to apply them is at the end of this syllabus.

Laboratory experiments will illustrate concepts being discussed in lecture and familiarize you with many of the tools used by physical chemists. The tools you will learn to apply include the chemical literature; written and oral communication; mathematical functions; error analysis; and mechanical and electronic equipment such as vacuum pumps and computers.

Required Texts: Cooksy, Physical Chemistry (2 volume set, Thermodynamics and Quantum Mechanics).

Barrante, Applied Mathematics for Physical Chemistry, 3rd edition.


Required Equipment: bound duplicating laboratory notebook, pen (for writing in lab notebook), scientific calculator and goggles.

Prerequisites: three semesters of calculus (Calc III may be concurrent), two semesters of calculus based physics (second semester may be concurrent).

Class times: Lectures: MWF 9:10 10:10 (HS 367); Lab (HS-428): M 1:50 5:10 (sec 1), T 1:20 4:30 (sec 2).

Office Hours: Dr. Gutow (HS-412): MWF 10:20-11:20, TTh 9:30-10:30 or by appointment.

Reading Assignments and Homework will cover a week or two and will have parts due at the beginning of each class meeting. Assignments will not be accepted late, but some of your lowest scores will be dropped.

Reading Assignments will come primarily from the textbook. Other sources will be used as necessary.

Homework will be due for each class and consist of three sections of one or more questions each. The first two sections will focus on material we will be discussing during the class meeting for which the assignment is completed.

Critical Thinking Exercises/Discussion Questions: The questions are designed to help you learn how to use the textbook and other reference sources to prepare for class. For example, you might be asked to find definitions, compare two models and explain when it is appropriate to use each or work through some ‘what if’ calculations.

Practice Exercises: These will come primarily from the exercises at the end of the chapter. The goal is to help you figure out what you need to ask about in class.

Problems: These problems will be a little more challenging and based on material discussed in the previous class.

Exams: There will be 220 available points on each exam. However, exams will be scored out of 200 points (20 pts of extra credit distributed throughout the exam). The exams will be written to be completed in one hour, but you will be given unlimited time. The material requires that exams be cumulative, but primary emphasis will be on the chapters covered since the previous exam. The goal of this course is not to memorize formulas, but to learn how to use models to make predictions. You will be provided with an equation sheet for each exam consisting of the fundamental equations of each model. Additionally, you will be allowed to bring a 3” x 5” card of handwritten notes to the exam. There will also be a 90 minute laboratory exam (see the lab section of the syllabus for more details).




Homework & in class worksheets:




3 x 200 pts








Grade Cutoffs: A/A- > 87%, B+/B/B- > 77%, C+/C/C- > 67%, D+/D > 60%, F 60%. The cutoffs will not be adjusted upwards, but the instructor reserves the right to lower them.

Additional Resources:

WEB RESOURCES: This syllabus, copies of homework assignments and answer keys will be available at the course web site. The course web site may be accessed by starting at the instructor's home page:, or by following the direct link at the top of the syllabus. Problem sets and answer keys will be password protected. If you are registered for the class you will be able to use your campus login to access the password protected parts of the site.

CLASS DISCUSSION LIST: A private Google group has been set up for this class. Registering for the class adds you to the group. This e-mail discussion group will be used by the instructor to distribute notices and links to assignments. You should use this group to ask questions of fellow students. The instructor monitors the list and will try to address any unanswered questions after 48 hours. If you want to access the group on the web the direct link is:

SYMBOLIC MATH PACKAGES: These can help you do algebra and calculus. The open source SAGE math package is available on the Chem SAGE Server , on the computers in P-Chem lab and can be downloaded from the SAGEmath web site and installed on your personal computer. Information on user accounts on the Chem SAGE Server will be provided in class. MAPLE™ is available on the computers in the open access labs in Halsey.

TEXTS: The following books are on reserve in in the Halsey Resource Center (HS-289). You may find it useful to see difficult concepts described a number of ways. Homework assignments will suggest sections of these texts to look at for additional help.

Barrante, Applied Mathematics for Physical Chemistry QD455.3.M3 B37. A good review of chemical applications of graphing and calculus.

Barrow, Physical Chemistry. Contains good descriptions of statistical mechanics without detailed quantum mechanics.

Warren, The Physical Basis of Chemistry, QD475.P47. This book has nice simplified, but accurate, descriptions of many of the quantum, spectroscopic and thermodynamic concepts we will discuss.

Nash, Elements of Statistical Thermodynamics, QC311.5.N3. This is a little pamphlet that very lucidly develops the underlying concepts of Statistical Thermodynamics.

Lecture Schedule:

Topic (text sections: VOLUME.CHAPTER)


I. Statistical Mechanics of Gases

Intro/Historical Background (T.1)


Intro to quantum and statistical mechanics (T.2)

9/6, 9/9, 9/11, 9/13

Partitioning energy (T.3)

9/16, 9/18, 9/21, 9/23

Molecular Interactions (T.4, Q.10 Q.12)

9/25, 9/27, 9/30



Exam 1 (Unit I)

October 3 or 4, 2013 (Th or F)

II. Thermodynamics & Statistical Mechanics

Heat Capacities (T.7)

10/7, 10/9, 10/11, 10/14

First Law (T.8)

10/16, 10/18, 10/21, 10/23

Second Law, Third Law and Mixing (T.9)

10/25, 10/28, 10/30, 11/1



Exam 2 (Unit II)

November 5 or 6, 2013 (T or W)

III. Thermodynamics of Equilibria, Mixtures and Reactions

Phase Transitions (T.10)

11/8, 11/11, 11/13, 11/15

Solutions (T.11)

11/18, 11/20, 11/22, 11/25

Reactions (T.12)

12/2, 12/4, 12/6, 12/9



Exam 3 (Unit III)

December 12 or 13, 2013 (Th or F)


Laboratory Notebooks: Notebooks should be records of everything a scientist does. They are used as legal evidence that an experiment was performed in patent claims and are often referred to by other scientists working on related experiments. Entries should be made in permanent ink. Notes from pre-lab lectures should not be recorded in your notebook, but all calculations and data analysis should be. A minimum checklist of what should be in your notebook will be handed out separately in class and is available on the class web site. Pages should be numbered consecutively and a table of contents included. Date each page as it is used and start a new page on each day; do not tear out pages, simply draw a line through errors. Lab notebooks will be checked each day and initialed by your instructor. You will turn in your duplicate pages for grading with each lab report.

Pre-lab preparation: Read the description of the experiment and any additional assignment. The experiments are not described as a list of steps to be followed, so careful reading and reflection before lab will be required to develop a plan for the project.

In your notebook record a brief outline of the procedure you expect to follow and construct two tables of information: 1) reagents; 2) equipment. In the reagents table write the chemical name, chemical formula, a drawing of the Lewis structure, the state in which it will be found (solid, liquid, gas, or in solution), and hazard information from the Material Safety Data Sheet(s), which are available online or in the stockroom. If solutions are to be prepared, calculate the amounts needed. The equipment list only needs to list equipment. However, you must try to make it complete. The list should contain every piece of glassware and equipment you think you will need. This includes, for example, pipets, spatulas, sensors, D/A interfaces and computers.

During lab: Procedures actually followed should be described in your laboratory notebook. Do not rely on a summary written before the lab, although you may just note deviations from your planned procedure. List lab partners. Include all experimental observations, data and calculations; you should tape in computer printouts and spectra (cut or fold to fit). If data is stored in computer files accurately record the data file names and which computer they are on. Goggles and appropriate clothing (no sandals or shorts) must be worn at all times. Failure to wear safety goggles may result in ejection from lab and an F in the course.

Lab Reports: Because scientists use many formats for communicating information, we will practice a variety of report styles this semester.

  1. 1.Formal laboratory reports: Your reports should be written as if for publication in The Journal of Physical Chemistry. Assume that your readers have studied physical chemistry but are not familiar with your handouts. A sample lab report is available on the class web site. You will be required to use proper ACS formatting for your references this semester (examples are given immediately below). Additional recommendations on word choice, grammar, reference format, notation and nomenclature may be found in The ACS Style Guide, J. S. Dodd, Ed. (QD8.5.A25) which is on reserve in the Halsey Resource Center.

    • Journal Article: Ref#. Authors Journal Title Year, volume, pages.

      1. 1.Maniero, A. M.; Acioli, P. H.; Silva, G. M. E.; Gargano, R. Chemical Physics Letters 2010, 490, 123-126.

    • Book Section: Ref#. Authors In Book Title; Editors, Ed.; Publisher: City, Year; pages.

      1. 1.Hiatt, R. In Organic Peroxides; Swern, D., Ed.; Wiley-Interscience: New York, 1971; Vol. 2, p 1-151.

    • Book: Ref#. Authors Book Title; Publisher: City, Year; pages.

      1. 1.Adamson, A. W. Physical Chemistry of Surfaces; 5 ed.; John Wiley & Sons: New York, 1990; p 7-11.

    • Web Reference: Ref#. Authors, Title Year, Link accessed Date.

      1. 1.Gutow, J. H. Dr. Gutow's Atomic Orbital Viewer 2006, accessed Jan. 14, 2011.

  2. 2.Feature article for a newsmagazine: This is aimed at the general public so should connect the experiment to more common experiences. The length should be two to three typewritten pages plus one or two figures or graphs. Calculations and error analysis are not to be part of the article but should be attached for grading.

  3. 3.Poster presentation: This is the way most scientific work is communicated at meetings. Posters must be eye-catching and informative. Keep text to a minimum. You must have: a title, author’s name, an introduction, a body (consisting mostly of tables and figures with appropriate captions), a conclusion and references. Error analysis is not to be part of the poster but should be turned in for grading.

  4. 4.Oral report: Over the course of the semester groups of students will work to prepare a 10 minute presentation on one laboratory. The instructor will assign a topic and a date for the oral presentation for each group. Each group member will present a part of the report (Introduction, Experimental, Results/Discussion) The time limit means it will be a summary of the material in a formal report. Computer projections should be used as visual aids.

  5. 5.Peer Review: Articles published in the literature are reviewed by anonymous reviewers. Articles are only published after the reviewers are satisfied that they are accurate, well written and a new contribution to the scientific body of knowledge. Most articles are rewritten at least once in response to reviewers’ comments. Often additional experiments are also done. You will review two of your peers’ formal lab reports for each formal report that is due and rewrite your reports based on the reviews returned to you.

Students may discuss the write-up and calculations with each other but every student must turn in an individual report. Reports must be typed or computer word processed. Use of computers for data plotting and analysis is encouraged as is reference to the chemical literature for accepted values.

Reports will be graded as follows: 9 points on writing including a comparison with the literature, 10 points on calculations including error analysis, 1 point for literature search. A copy of the grading rubric for formal reports is attached to this syllabus. The criteria are:

  1. 1.Does the report contain all the sections (abstract, introduction, experimental method, results, discussion)? Is the information logically distributed among the sections?

  2. 2.Is sufficient information given in experimental methods for another physical chemistry student to repeat the experiment without referring to your handouts?

  3. 3.Have all the discussion questions been answered?

  4. 4.Are the spelling and grammar correct? Is verb tense consistent (present or past)? In general past is appropriate unless referring to data presented in the report. Is the voice correct? Most scientific articles are in the passive voice. For example: instead of, "we did the experiment three times," write, "the experiment was done three times." Note that the implied "by _____" is left out.

  5. 5.Is the formatting correct (margins, page numbers, double spaced, figure and table numbers and format, reference format...)?

  6. 6.Are the equations used in calculations included? Are there any errors in the calculations? Are the significant figures carried correctly? Are the error estimates reasonable?

  7. 7.Was a literature search performed? Is a copy of the SciFinder™ title, abstract and reference page found in the search attached. You may use the references supplied in handouts or the text for actual comparison, but you must perform a literature search using SciFinder™ or another database and provide at least one abstract found this way from an appropriate reference.

The reviews will be due the lab day after the reports were originally due. You may rewrite reports based on the reviews. If you turn in the rewritten report within one week of getting the reviews, the grade will be recalculated as the mean average of the original and rewritten reports. A copy of one of your reports, the best, will be kept for your student portfolio. Thus you should rewrite at least one report. In an effort to save trees and facilitate reviews you will be turning in the reports electronically to TWO web sites. You must upload a copy to the class D2L dropbox and one to the P-chem report web site. Turn in an electronic copy of your report to each web site before class. Detailed instructions will be provided in class. Reviews of classmates’ reports are worth 2 points each.

Reports are due before class the week following completion of the project. Late reports will be marked down 10%/day. Incomplete reports will be returned and the late penalty assessed.

Laboratory Exam: There will be a 90 minute final exam based on work done in lab. You will be able to refer to your textbooks, lab reports, and lab notebooks on the exam. The 90 minutes allotted for the exam will not be enough to figure out what you did from your text and your lab reports. You will only have enough time to use them as references to get constants, formuli and relationships correct. You will need to review your laboratory reports and correct any mistakes you made in order to do well on this exam. You will also be responsible for material from the prelabs and assigned reading. Two non-graded problem sets will be distributed during the semester to assist your preparation for the exam.




library worksheet


6 x 5 =


pre-laboratory preparation


6 x 5 =


laboratory notes


6 x 2 =


reviews of reports


6 x 20 =


laboratory reports (includes posters and article)


1 x 10 =


oral report


1 x 10 =


statistical mechanics worksheet




final exam




points total


Lab Schedule:


Week Due

Week of







Library Assignment

9/16 (Data Sheet)





Real and Ideal Gases






Real and Ideal Gases (continued)

9/30 (formal)





Statistical Mechanics Worksheet





Rotate through 2 labs (Heat of Combustion, Solution Calorimetry)








Comb/Sol'n (continued)

10/21 (formal)











Sol'n/Comb (continued)

11/4 (poster)




Rotate through 2 labs (Partial Molar Volume, Refractometry and Viscometry)















11/25 (poster)











Electrochemistry (continued)






90 min Lab Exam (exact time to be arranged)


Assessment of Learning: As part of the department's assessment of its majors program, evidence will be added to your portfolios to demonstrate your ability to do a number of things.

From Lecture:

  1. 1.describe the structure and composition of matter;

  2. 2.apply theoretical and mechanistic principles to the study of chemical systems employing both qualitative and quantitative approaches;

  3. 3.use theories of microscopic properties to explain macroscopic behavior;

  4. 4.explain the role of energy in determining the structure and reactivity of molecules;

  5. 5.use mathematical representations of physical phenomena.


From Lab:

  1. and follow experimental protocols;

  2. 2.properly set up and safely manipulate laboratory equipment;

  3. 3.plan and execute experiments, including the use of the chemical literature;

  4. 4.maintain accurate records of experimental work;

  5. 5.analyze data statistically and assess reliability of results;

  6. 6.prepare effective written scientific reports;

  7. 7.use mathematical representations of physical phenomena;

  8. 8.use and understand modern instrumentation;

  9. 9.use computers for chemical applications;

  10. 10.retrieve specific information from the chemical literature;

  11. cooperatively in problem solving situations.


Models you will learn to apply:


Be able to apply to

Gas Laws


-van der Waals

-Virial Expansion

Pure Gases

Gas Mixtures

To simplify thermodynamic models

Kinetic Molecular Theory

Gases (molecular speeds and energies)

Quantum Mechanics

Particle-on-a-line, Particle-in-a-box

Allowed energies (Translation, Rotation, Vibration, Electronic)

Boltzmann Distribution (most random distribution)

Classical Thermodynamics


-Maxwell Relations

-Colligative Properties

Reaction enthalpies, entropies and free energies (∆H,∆S, ∆G)

Constant pressure (isobaric) phenomena

Constant temperature (isothermal) phenomena

Heat engines (adiabatic versus isothermal processes)

Equilibria (Phase, Electrochemical, Chemical)

Physical changes (phase)

Mixtures (Fp, Bp, vapor pressure and Osmotic pressure changes)

Statistical Thermodynamics

Heat capacities (Cp versus Cv)

Entropy of matter


Chemical reactions

Physical changes

Classical thermodynamics



Lab Report Grading Rubric on next page.

Document Actions
by Jonathan Gutow last modified Jun 28, 2017 09:10 AM