65996 - Physical Chemistry

Course Unit Page

Academic Year 2017/2018

Learning outcomes

Elements of thermodynamics: internal energy, entropy, free energy, equilibrium constant and dependence on temperature and total pressure, electrochemical cells, phase diagrams, chemical kinetics.

Course contents

The nature of thermodynamics. Mathematical description of a system with two or more independent variables. Extensive and intensive properties. First law of thermodynamics, internal energy, heat, heat capacity, work, enthalpy, thermochemistry, molecular interpretation of enthalpy changes, the unusual thermal properties of water and their significance from the biological and environmental points of view. Second and third laws, spontaneous processes, entropy, efficiency of a heat engine and thermal rise of the cooling stage, heat pump. Free energy, chemical potential, chemical equilibrium, temperature and pressure dependence of the equilibrium constant. Phase rule, phase diagrams in binary systems, colligative properties. Real gases and solutions, fugacity and activity coefficients, azeotropes, partially miscible liquids. Equilibrium electrochemistry;  reduction standard potentials; Nernst equation.. Eh/pH diagrams.

Chemical kinetics. Reaction rate, order of reaction and molecularity, integrated rate equations, dependence of the kinetic constants on temperature.  Experimental methods for the determination of the order of reaction. Biochemical oxygen demand (BOD). Enzyme kinetics and the Michaelis-Menten model.


- Transparensies used for the lectures, mainly taken from; - Physical Chemistry with Applications to the Life Sciences , D. Eisenberg and D. Crothers, The Benjamin/Cummings Publ. Co., 1979; - Physical Chemistry, G.W. Castellan, Addison-Wesley Publishing Co., London.


Teaching methods

Lectures, tutorials and numerical exercises.

Assessment methods

Oral exams. There will also be an intermediate written examination, half-way through the programme. Should the student consider the result of this written examination acceptable, the final oral examination will involve only the remaining part of the programme.

Teaching tools

Transparencies used for the lectures (pdf file downloadable from the web).

Office hours

See the website of Alberto Modelli