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Nelson, Keith A., and Moungi Bawendi, 5.60 Thermodynamics , Spring 2008. (Massachusetts Institute of Technology: MIT OpenCourseWare),  (Accessed 09 Jul, 2010). License: Creative Commons BY-NC-SA

Thermodynamics & Kinetics

Spring 2008

Interaction between a reversible engine (A) and a reversible ideal gas Carnot cycle (B). (Illustration courtesy of MIT OpenCourseWare.)

Course Description

This subject deals primarily with equilibrium properties of macroscopic systems, basic thermodynamics, chemical equilibrium of reactions in gas and solution phase, and rates of chemical reactions.


The material for 5.60 has evolved over a period of many years, and therefore several faculty members have contributed to the development of the course contents. The following are known to have assisted in preparing the lecture notes available on OpenCourseWare:

Emeritus Professors of Chemistry: Robert A. Alberty, Carl W. Garland, Irwin Oppenheim, John S. Waugh.

Professors of Chemistry: Moungi Bawendi, John M. Deutch, Robert W. Field, Robert G. Griffin, Keith A. Nelson, Robert J. Silbey, Jeffrey I. Steinfeld.

Professor of Bioengineering and Computer Science: Bruce Tidor.

Professor of Chemistry, Rice University: James L. Kinsey.

Professor of Physics, University of Illinois: Philip W. Phillips.

Special Features

  • Complete video lectures

Technical Requirements

Special software is required to use some of the files in this course: .mp4.

*Some translations represent previous versions of courses.



This subject deals with both chemical thermodynamics and chemical kinetics. The material that will be covered in this subject is intended to provide you with the tools and understanding to handle basic problems involving chemical systems at equilibrium and rates of simple chemical reactions.


Silbey, R., R. Alberty, and M. Bawendi. Physical Chemistry. 4th ed. New York, NY: John Wiley & Sons, 2004. ISBN: 9780471215042.

Other Resources

Atkins, P., and J. de Paula. Physical Chemistry. 7th ed. New York, NY: W.H. Freeman and Company, 2001. ISBN: 9780716735397.

Castellan, G. Physical Chemistry. 3rd ed. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley, 1983. ISBN: 9780201103861.

Houston, P. Chemical Kinetics and Reaction Dynamics. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill, 2001. ISBN: 9780072435375.


There will be three one-hour examinations during the term and a final examination. The exams will be closed-notes and closed-book unless otherwise announced. Tutorial reviews will be held prior to each exam.


Problems will be assigned every week. Late problem sets are not accepted. Homework will be graded by the recitation instructor and returned in recitation.


Grades for the subject will be based on a total of 600 points:

Three one-hour exams 100 (each)
Homework 100
Final exam 200


1 State of a system, 0th law, equation of state  
2 Work, heat, first law  
3 Internal energy, expansion work  
4 Enthalpy  
5 Adiabatic changes Problem set 1 due
6 Thermochemistry  
7 Calorimetry  
8 Second law Problem set 2 due
9 Entropy and the Clausius inequality  
10 Entropy and irreversibility  
11 Fundamental equation, absolute S, third law Problem set 3 due
12 Criteria for spontaneous change  
  First hour exam  
13 Gibbs free energy  
14 Multicomponent systems, chemical potential  
15 Chemical equilibrium  
16 Temperature, pressure and Kp Problem set 4 due
17 Equilibrium: application to drug design  
18 Phase equilibria — one component  
19 Clausius-Clapeyron equation Problem set 5 due
20 Phase equilibria — two components  
  Second hour exam  
21 Ideal solutions  
22 Non-ideal solutions  
23 Colligative properties  
24 Introduction to statistical mechanics Problem set 6 due
25 Partition function (q) — large N limit  
26 Partition function (Q) — many particles  
27 Statistical mechanics and discrete energy levels Problem set 7 due
28 Model systems  
29 Applications: chemical and phase equilibria Problem set 8 due
30 Introduction to reaction kinetics  
  Third hour exam  
31 Complex reactions and mechanisms  
32 Steady-state and equilibrium approximations  
33 Chain reactions  
34 Temperature dependence, Ea, catalysis Problem set 9 due
35 Enzyme catalysis  
36 Autocatalysis and oscillators  
  Final exam   Tell A Friend