# CH273 - Statistical Mechanics & Properties of Solutions and Foundations of Electrochemistry

**Module code:**CH273**Module name:**Statistical Mechanics & Properties of Solutions and Foundations of Electrochemistry**Department:**Chemistry**Credit:**15

Content and teaching | Assessment | Availability

## Module content and teaching

###### Principal aims

This module brings together two disciplines, statistical mechanics and electrochemistry, which in many cases offer two complementary perspectives on the very the same subject. Perhaps the most notable example is given by the physical chemistry of ionic species in aqueous solutions, a key concept of practical relevance for the experimental electrochemist - which in fact builds upon the theoretical foundations of the statistical mechanics of liquids. In the attempt to make a connection between these two fields of study, the module will be equally split between two members of staff: Dr. Gabriele C. Sosso (Statistical Mechanics) and Prof. Julie Macpherson (Solution Properties / Electrochemistry). Here follows a short summary of the principal aims for the two sections of the module, namely: Part 1: Statistical Mechanics The foundations of Statistical Mechanics aims to establish a connection between quantum mechanics and thermodynamics - that is, between the microscopic world (a single water molecule) and the macroscopic world (a bucket of tap water). This module seeks to harness the theoretical tools of Statistical Mechanics to: 1. Unravel why things in chemistry are the way they are - for instance, where does the value of the molar specific heat of a diatomic gas comes from. 2. Perform molecular simulations, from basic concepts to practical applications. 3. Understanding chemical equilibrium from a molecular perspective. 4. Provide a theoretical and computational framework to understand and investigate the properties of liquids and ionic solutions. From Statistical Mechanics to Electrochemistry The following concepts will be specifically introduced within the last part of the Statistical Mechanics section, and developed further within the first part of the Solutions / Electrochemistry section: - The Statistical Mechanics of liquids - The pair correlation function - Ions in aqueous solutions - Debye-HÃ¼ckel theory Part 2: Electrochemistry Electrochemistry plays an important role not only in physical chemistry, but in many areas of science in general: from biology (e.g. nerve signalling, vision) through chemistry (e.g. synthesis and analysis) to materials science (e.g. design of novel materials, such as nanowires and nanoparticles) and physics (e.g. electronics). Students will be provided with an introduction to the fundamentals of electrochemistry and solution properties and the role of electrochemistry in many of the areas highlighted above.

###### Principal learning outcomes

Part 1: Statistical Mechanics By the end of this section the students should be able to: - Define the theoretical foundations of (classical, equilibrium) Statistical Mechanics, particularly the concepts of ensemble and partition function. - Explain why Statistical Mechanics can be considered as the cornerstone of molecular simulations. - Extract thermodynamic quantities such as entropy and free energy from molecular partition functions. - Calculate equilibrium constants for simple chemical reactions. - Discuss the structural properties of liquids and ionic solutions, to be developed further within Part 2: Electrochemistry. - [Key Skills] Write computer scripts in Python to e.g. analyse the results of molecular simulations. Part 2: Electrochemistry Understand how (1) ions interact with water thermodynamically; (2) gain appreciation of the Debye Huckel equation for describing the free energy of ions in solution; (3) understand what control solution conductivity and ion mobility; (4) introduction to scanning probe microscopy; (5) introduction to the electrical double layer, storage of charge and development of surface potentials; (6) explore the link with batteries and fuel cells; (7) understand the thermodynamics of cell reactions and the link to the Nernst equation; (8) knowledge of neuronal cell potentials and voltage transmission; (9) gain an understanding of dynamic electrochemistry and the relationship between current and flux and what controls flux in an electrochemical cell; (10) understand the difference in behaviour between micro and macro electrodes

###### Timetabled teaching activities

Part 1: Statistical Mechanics: 13 x 1 hr Lectures 2 x 1hr Key Skills [Python] 2 x 2 hrs Workshops (all students) 2 x 2 hrs Computational Workshops (small groups) 1x 1 hr Revision Session Part 2: Electrochemistry 15 x 1hr Lectures 2 x 2hrs Workshops (all students/small groups) 1 x 1hr Revision Session

###### Departmental link

## Module assessment

Assessment group | Assessment name | Percentage |
---|---|---|

15 CATS (Module code: CH273-15) | ||

D (Assessed/examined work) | Computational project | 20% |

1.5 hour examination (Summer) | 80% |

## Module availability

This module is available on the following courses:

###### Core

- Undergraduate Chemistry 3 Year Variants (F100) - Year 2
- Undergraduate Chemistry (with Intercalated Year) Variants (F101) - Year 2
- Undergraduate Master of Chemistry Variants (F105) - Year 2
- Undergraduate Master of Chemistry (with Intercalated Year) (F107) - Year 2
- Undergraduate Master of Chemistry (with International Placement) (F109) - Year 2
- Undergraduate Master of Chemistry Variants (F109) - Year 2
- Undergraduate Master of Chemistry (with Industrial Placement) (F110) - Year 2
- Undergraduate Master of Chemistry Variants (F110) - Year 2
- Undergraduate Master of Chemistry (with International Placement) (F111) - Year 2
- Undergraduate Master of Chemistry (with Industrial Placement) (F112) - Year 2
- Undergraduate Chemistry 3 Year Variants (F121) - Year 2
- Undergraduate Chemistry (with Intercalated Year) Variants (F122) - Year 2
- Undergraduate Master of Chemistry Variants (F125) - Year 2
- Undergraduate Master of Chemistry with Medicinal Chemistry(with Intercalated Year) (F127) - Year 2
- Undergraduate Chemistry and Business Studies (FN11) - Year 2

###### Optional Core

N/A

###### Optional

N/A