PHYSICAL CHEMISTRY ACHM 541
MWF Noon – 12:50PM
Dr. M. Fetterolf
MTThF 10:00 – 11:00AM
W 2:00 – 3:00PM
All other times are subject to my availability. Please see my posted schedule on my office door. I
know in PChem it is important to have your questions answered as they arise. I usually have time to help
unless I am preparing for a class, lab or meeting. I will also be available at home by phone (not too early or
late) or email. Please contact me with your PChem questions or if you will be missing a lecture or lab.
Physical Chemistry Vol. 1 & 2, 8th Edition; Atkins and de Paula, Freeman, 2006.
Student Solutions Manual; Atkins, Trapp, Cady & Giunta, Freeman, 2006.
Survival Guide for Physical Chemistry, Michelle Francl; Physics Curriculum&Instruction, 2001.
Routine access to Blackboard through VIP and a scientific calculator with which you are familiar.
HOMEWORK PROBLEM SETS
Homework exercises and problems, to practice and apply skills, will be distributed for each exam
period and a due date will be assigned. Any homework assignment turned in after that date will receive a
50% point penalty. After the homework key is posted, which is never more that two days after the due date,
late homework sets will not be accepted for grading and no points will be received for that set. Please turn
in whatever homework you have done by the due date and then finish what you can afterwards. It is more
advantageous to do so in the long run. The assignments will come from other texts books and will be
appropriate for the material we are covering. The required Student Solutions Manual contains worked out
solutions to half of the problems located at the end of each chapter in the text. This and the examples
throughout the text will provide a guide for solving homework problems. You will need to use whatever
skills you have acquired from the lecture, the lab and the text to design solutions to the homework
problems. The homework assignments are to be considered small take-home exams and your work with
other students should be limited to initial consultation only. If I see any evidence of greater interaction, no
credit will be received for that homework problem set by each of the collaborators. The homework problem
set key will be available on the web site in time to study for the upcoming exam.
The text by Francl is an excellent review of the mathematics required for all aspects of chemistry,
not just this course. There are also study tips and suggestions for being successful in a physical chemistry
course. Please become familiar with this book and use it as needed. I will present several applications of
multivariable calculus from this book in lab so that their use will be more straightforward.
Some homework problems are perfect for solving using software programs that help explore
aspects of physical chemistry. Programs such as Maple, Mathcad, and Mathematica should become a
routine part of your work in both lecture and lab. I encourage you to use software programs as an integral
part of homework and for all chemistry and physics calculations in any of your classes. Mathcad is
available on the computers in SBDG 315 and Maple is available in the Math labs. Please develop a habit of
working with software. You may want to purchase a physical science application text for your software of
Every Friday, except for exam weeks, during the last five minutes of class we will have a brief
quiz that draws from the week’s lecture materials, suggested text problems, and recent topics from the text.
The purpose here is to get everyone to review the most recent topics and to keep up in their studies.
Because we will have seven to nine of these quizzes at 5 points each, the impact on one’s grade for poor
performance is not major but can make a difference in borderline grade cases.
I am planning four midterm exams this semester. These exams will include questions similar to
the assigned homework problems/exercises. I will supply the data tables and figures needed for each exam.
There will also be brief discussion questions that cover the assigned reading. Exams are scheduled during a
lab period. The exam length will be roughly two and half hours. The final exam will be given at the
scheduled time of Friday, December 11, 2009 at 11:00AM in our regular class room. The Final Exam
will contain comprehensive material as well as material covered after the last midterm exam. One 3” x 5”
notecard containing any equations or information you would like may be brought with you to use
during each exam. However the cards cannot contain text passages, examples or problem solutions.
I will check each card prior to the exam and collect them with the exam. Answer keys will be available on
Blackboard as soon as the exam is over.
I plan to cover most of the material in Volume 1 in order. These chapters are full of specific
information and details that time will not allow me to address. Since the text is readable and
straightforward, lectures will enhance understanding of the material we cover, not simply follow what is
stated in the text. These chapters deal with the topic of equilibrium thermodynamics - an extensive and
involved subject - and the last chapters introduce the important topic of chemical kinetics. Therefore it is
very important that you read the text for understanding and stay ahead of my lectures. For planning
purposes, I am targeting an average of 10 – 12 pages of text material per lecture. Based on my experience,
this lecture schedule is entirely possible but will require commitment on our part to keep up. You must
read the text. Extra informationa and lecture notes that are meant to enhance the course are present on the
course website found off of the department homepage. I often add material to this site as the semester
proceeds and I will announce these additions in lecture or lab.
You must be, and I expect you to be, an active participant in PChem. This class attempts to
provide the physical basis for all chemical phenomena and observations, and as such, becomes a
foundational course. As chemistry majors, I expect you to have an active interest in the subjects of this
course and a curiosity that leads to questions and a desire to obtain understanding. Physical chemistry in
general has a national reputation of being a very difficult and incomprehensible subject for the beginner. I
feel that this reputation is due in part to the usual teaching approach which is to cover as many topics as
possible in as much detail as possible from the instructor’s perspective, without regard to how many
students are staying with the material. This is not my approach. I try to provide enough in-depth coverage
of the essential topics so that you can build from them later in your careers as the need arises. At the
completion of the entire ACHM 541/542 series, the nationally normalized American Chemical Society
PChem exam will be administered (this is also the only exam where a note card is not allowed). Good
students in the past have done above the national average on that exam so my approach seems to have
merit. But you must do your work if the class is to be successful. In a small class, your participation and
activity do influence the other students.
An "A" student in this class is expected to perform well in all test areas including the homework
exercises/problems and workbook exercises. The average student will be able to perform basic physical
chemistry calculations and make basic chemical judgments based on their experience and familiarity with
the text, lectures, and problems. Student performance on the homework problems and workbook exercises
is meant to distinguish between the “A” and “C”student groups. Past students who have received an "A"
have been interested in all of the subject areas, dedicated enough to ask questions, probed the text for more
information than is discussed directly in lecture, and attempted to understand physical chemistry as a
whole. This personal goal of these students drove them to excellent performance in the course.
As juniors in college you should realize by now that one of your major goals in any course, and
certainly this course, is to understand the material and not merely to perform tasks. Most students cannot
understand a subject such as PChem quickly. Sometimes maintaining a high level of dedication to the
course is the only goal a student can accomplish quickly. But understanding must be your goal and if it is,
then good grades follow. You will feel more satisfied about your efforts because they were aimed at the
proper target and therefore feel better about your classroom efforts in general. That dedication is required
in PChem. The subject is too extensive and complex to not require dedication. Understanding a subject
requires reading and rereading your textbook and notes, looking at and doing examples and exercises in the
text that aren't part of the assignments so that you can gain confidence, and integrating your thoughts about
lab into lecture and vice versa. Thinking about, integrating, and applying your acquired knowledge is key.
The point breakdown for each performance area is given below. The course grade will be based
on the percentage of total points received. My usual guideline is: above 85% an “A”, 72% - 85% a “B”,
60% - 72% a “C”, etc.
Homework Exercises (Approx.)
150 pts (20%)
Quizzes (9 @ 5 pts)
45 pts ( 7%)
Midterm Exams (4 @ 100 pts)
400 pts (53%)
150 pts (20%)
For purposes of a schedule, we will have a midterm exam every two or three chapters.
Tentatively, Exam I will be 9/17, Exam II will be 10/15, Exam III will be 11/5, and Exam IV will be 12/3.
In total, your responsibilities are 1) the assigned homework problems and workbook exercises
turned in on time, 2) the text material, 3) the lecture material, and 4) any other suggested exercises and
problems assigned for review. If understanding is your goal, then all of your questions must be answered
ahead of time and you must keep delving into the subject. Anything short of that will show up as a lack of
confidence, which will translate into lower grades.
Lectures will begin promptly and you are responsible for the material covered in lecture. This text
is fairly rigorous but many formula derivations may still appear in class. Many data interpretation ideas
covered in lecture are not presented in this or any text. Physical chemistry is a very demanding topic and
will require a consistent effort on your part to get the most out of each lecture. Should you need help with
problem-solving skills, basic chemistry, etc. please see me at office hours, by appointment, or by
HAVE A GOOD SEMESTER!!!!!!
NOTE: Any student who has a physical, psychological, and/or learning disability that might affect
performance in class needs to contact the Office of Disability Services (126A B&E, 803/641-3609) on
campus as soon as possible. That office will determine appropriate accommodations based on medical
Contacts----------Office Phone: 803/641-3378
Home Phone: 803/642-7125
Office Email: [email protected]
Home Email: [email protected]
After 7AM and before 10PM
Course Web Site URL: http://www.usca.edu/chemistry/pchem/