Atoms, Molecules, and Reactions: Thermodynamics and Statistical Mechanics

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Winter 2018 and Spring 2018 quarters

Taught by

physical chemistry


Students must have successfully completed one year of college calculus (differential and integral) and EITHER one year of college-level general chemistry with laboratory OR one year of college-level physics.

The full-time program Atoms, Molecules, and Reactions covers quantum mechanics, inorganic chemistry (in fall and winter), and thermodynamics (in winter and spring), all at the upper-division science level. Each of these subjects is available to students as an individual component by taking the variable credit option within Atoms, Molecules, and Reactions .

In winter, we will study the fundamentals of thermodynamics and statistical mechanics, including combinatorics and probability, the properties of large numbers of interacting particles, the first and second laws of thermodynamics, work, heat, energy, the equipartition theorem, entropy, enthalpy, rates of processes, equations of state, ideal gases, the Einstein solid, two-state paramagnets, calorimetry, refrigerators, engines, and the Carnot cyle.

In spring, half the time will be spent continuing the study of thermodynamics and statistical mechanics and other half adds the study of chemical kinetics. Spring quarter topics include: free energy and chemical thermodynamics with Gibbs and Helmholtz energy, phase transformations of pure and mixed substances, colligative properties, chemical equilibrium, Boltzman statistics, and quantum statistics. Kinetics lectures will cover reaction rates, rate law, orders, Arrhenius effects, molecularity, chain reactions, reaction mechanisms, the Eyring relationship, the Boltzmann distribution, and the Maxwell distribution of speeds. Laboratory exercises may be included if time permits.

Program Details

Fields of Study

chemistry physics

Preparatory For

chemistry, physics, and science education


Winter Signature Spring Closed

Location and Schedule

Campus Location


Time Offered


Advertised Schedule

Mon 1 - 3p; Thurs 9:30 - 11:30a

Online Learning

Enhanced Online Learning


2017-11-21Description updated.