CHEM 4531

 Physical Chemistry 2

Fall 2016: EKLC E1B75 MWF 9-9:50 AM

Teaching Assistant 

Rob Wells (

Office hours: Thursday 3-4 PM in CHEM360 (Vail Conference Room) 


CHEM 4511 or 4411, PHYS 1120 or 2020, MATH 2400 or APPM 2350 

Course Description

We will discuss basic principles of quantum mechanics and their application to atomic and molecular structure and dynamics. Quantum mechanical principles will be applied to spectroscopy to provide insight into molecular structure and energy states. The principles of statistical mechanics and their applications to predicting thermodynamic properties of bulk matter and chemical equilibria from quantum mechanical energy level structure will be introduced.

Course Website


Silbey, Alberty & Bawendi, “Physical Chemistry” 4th edition


Quantum and statistical mechanics are conceptually difficult topics that are best understood by considering multiple points of view, so the lectures will complement the presentation in the textbook. An important part of learning quantum mechanics and spectroscopy is to become comfortable with the mathematical notation and terminology. Accordingly, one of the learning goals is to “learn the lingo” used by contemporary practitioners of these subjects. Questions and discussion on concepts and terminology are therefore strongly encouraged.


Problem sets will be comprised of calculations, interpretation of data, and conceptual questions. To learn this material, it is critical that you attempt to work on the problems alone. If you do the homework exclusively by collaborating or discussing with other students, or by looking up the solutions to similar problems on-line or in textbooks, it’s unlikely that you will do well on the exams. Late problem sets will not be graded.


Homework                               25% 

Midterm exams (3 x 15%)       45%

Final exam                               30% 


Midterm exams will be administered in the evenings. Make-up exams will only be given for reasons beyond a student’s control. If there are problems with the exam dates, please notify me by September 7. Exams missed without an excuse will count as a zero. For each exam, you may bring a single-sided 8.5x11 handwritten sheet of notes (to be handed in with the exam) and a calculator (no smartphones).

Exam #1        Tuesday, September 20, 6:00-8:00 PM in HLMS 199

Exam #2        Tuesday, October 25, 6:00-8:00 PM in HLMS 199

Exam #3        Tuesday, November 29, 6:00-8:00 PM in HLMS 199

Final Exam    TBA

Topics and relevant sections of Silbey, Alberty & Bawendi (4th edition):

Chapter 9. Quantum Theory, pages 296-343

Chapter 10. Atomic Structure, pages 348-391

Chapter 11. Molecular Electronic Structure, pages 396-433

Chapter 13. Rotational & vibrational spectroscopy, pages 458-497

Chapter 14. Electronic spectroscopy of molecules, pages 502-533

Chapter 16. Statistical mechanics, pages 568-605

Useful Links:

Fourier App:

Quantum Tunneling App:

Bound States App:



Supplemental Files: