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Physical Chemistry: Understanding our Chemical World

Physical Chemistry: Understanding our Chemical World

Paul M. S. Monk

ISBN: 978-0-470-02030-2

Dec 2005

618 pages



Understanding Physical Chemistry is a gentle introduction to the principles and applications of physical chemistry. The book aims to introduce the concepts and theories in a structured manner through a wide range of carefully chosen examples and case studies drawn from everyday life. These real-life examples and applications are presented first, with any necessary chemical and mathematical theory discussed afterwards. This makes the book extremely accessible and directly relevant to the reader.

Aimed at undergraduate students taking a first course in physical chemistry, this book offers an accessible applications/examples led approach to enhance understanding and encourage and inspire the reader to learn more about the subject.

  • A comprehensive introduction to physical chemistry starting from first principles.
  • Carefully structured into short, self-contained chapters.
  • Introduces examples and applications first, followed by the necessary chemical theory.

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Etymological Introduction.

List of Symbols.

Powers of Ten: Standard Prefixes.

1. Introduction to physical chemistry .

1.1 What is physical chemistry? Variables, relationships and laws.

1.2 The practice of thermodynamic measurement.

1.3 Properties of gases and the gas laws.

1.4 Further thoughts on energy.

2.  Introducing interactions and bonds.

2.1 Physical and molecular interactions.

2.2 Quantifying the interactions and their influence.

2.3 Creating formal chemical bonds.

3. Energy and the first law of thermodynamics.

3.1 Introduction to thermodynamics: internal energy.

3.2 Enthalpy.

3.3 Indirect measurement of enthalpy.

4. Reaction spontaneity and the direction of thermodynamic change.

4.1 The direction of physicochemical change: entropy.

4.2 The temperature dependence of entropy.

4.3 Introducing the Gibbs function.

4.4 The effect of pressure on thermodynamic variables.

4.5 Thermodynamics and the extent of reaction.

4.6 The effect of temperature on thermodynamic variables.

5. Phase equilibria.

5.1 Ene rgetic introduction to phase equilibria.

5.2 Pressure and temperature changes with a single-component system: qualitative discussion.

5.3 Quantitative effects of pressure and temperature change for a single-component system.

5.4 Phase equilibria involving two-component systems: partition.

5.5 Phase equilibria and colligative properties.

5.6 Phase equilibria involving vapour pressure.

6. Acids and bases.

6.1 Properties of Lowry–Brønsted acids and bases.

6.2 ‘Strong’ and ‘weak’ acids and bases.

6.3 Titration analyses.

6.4 pH buffers.

6.5 Acid–base indicators.

7. Electrochemistry.

7.1 Introduction to cells: terminology and background.

7.2 Introducing half cells and electrode potentials.

7.3 Activity.

7.4 Half cells and the Nernst equation.

7.5 Concentration cells.

7.6 Transport phenomena.

7.7 Batteries.

8. Chemical kinetics.

8.1 Kinetics definitions.

8.2 Qualitative discussion of concentration changes.

8.3 Quantitative concentration changes: integrated rate equations.

8.4 Kinetic treatment of complicated reactions.

8.5 Thermodynamic considerations: activation energy, absolute reaction rates and catalysis.

9. Physical chemistry involving light: spectroscopy and photochemistry.

9.1 Introduction to photochemistry.

9.2 Photon absorptions and the effect of wavelength.

9.3 Photochemical and spectroscopic selection rules.

9.4 Photophysics: emission and loss processes.

9.5 Other optical effects.

10. Adsorption and surfaces, colloids and micelles.

10.1 Adsorption and definitions.

10.2 Colloids and interfacial science.

10.3 Colloid stability.

10.4 Association colloids: micelles.

Answers to SAQs.


"…a physical chemistry textbook that is interesting, easy to read, and makes the subject comprehensible is overdue…[this book] achieves this goal and does so quire well." (Journal of Chemical Education, May 2006)

"…Monk has a deep understanding of many of the thorny issues in physical chemistry and is able to avoid the unnecessary mystery that plagues other texts." (Clinical Chemistry, June 2005)

“…an original, refreshing and valuable approach to a complicated subject.” (Chemistry and Industry, No.17, 6th September 2004)

  • Provides a comprehensive introduction, starting from first principles
  • An applied approach, to stimulate interest and understanding
  • Carefully structured into short, self-contained chapters, taking the reader logically through the chemistry
  • Motivates, by firstly introducing examples and applications familiar to the reader, followed then by the chemical theory
  • Written with today's student's background, experience and interests in mind
  • Supplements to include a Web page