PHS 540: Integrated Physics and Chemistry (updated for 2010)



Catalog Description: The chemical and physical properties of matter and interactions. Emphasis on coordinating concepts of physic and chemistry. Evaluation of curriculum materials and design of coherent instructional units.


 Course Objectives: To explore the common conceptual foundations for physics and chemistry and their implications. Emphasis on qualitative modeling and reasoning.


 Supplemental Text: Chemical Bonding Clarified Through Quantum Mechanics by George C. Pimentel and Richard D. Sprately (1982) (See PHS 540 Textbook Information on course website.)



Each student is expected to spend 45 hours per semester credit hour.

Letter grade vs. satisfactory-fail: satisfactory grades may not transfer.

A-B-C grades: B means average; a 3.0 GPA is minimum requirement for MNS and other graduate degrees

Incomplete: only for special circumstances

Attendance: Grades are based on attendance, participation, and final project.

Final project: a usable module that integrates physics and chemistry. Presented during last week; electronic copy required


Course Content (Major topics in bold. Suggested topics below each major topic.)


I. Particulate structure of matter

Macroscopic vs. microscopic descriptions.


II. Energy additivity and conservation

Kinetic energy (translational, vibrational, rotational)

Interaction energy


III. Particle composition and basic properties

Molecules, atoms, nuclei and electrons, protons, neutrons,…

Mass additivity and matter conservation

Electric charge additivity and conservation


IV. Atomic models

Nuclei and electrons. Atomic number and mass

Coulomb interaction

Electron orbitals; “clouds”

Quantized energy levels

Periodic table

Mass-energy conversion


V. Molecular models

Chemical bonds


VI. Molecular collisions

Chemical reactions

Activation energy


VII. Thermodynamics

Equilibrium, irreversibility, and entropy