65996 - Physical Chemistry

Course Unit Page


This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.

Quality education Life on land

Academic Year 2021/2022

Learning outcomes

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


1) Elementi di Chimica Fisica di P.W. Atkins e J. de Paula. Ed. Zanichelli.

2) Chimica Fisica di P.W. Atkins e J. de Paula. Ed. Zanichelli.

Teaching methods

The course consists of lectures in which the notions are introduced with the support of the classic blackboard or video projection. Furthermore, numerical exercises and computer simulations will be carried out during the course in order to understand the notions acquired during the theoretical part.

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

Blackboard (lectures and exercises) and video-projector. Lecture notes.

Office hours

See the website of Luca Evangelisti