Skip to main content
Till KTH:s startsida Till KTH:s startsida

KD2340 Molecular Thermodynamics 7.5 credits

To develop the basic knowledge in statistical thermodynamics and its applications in chemistry and chemical engineering. 

Choose semester and course offering

Choose semester and course offering to see current information and more about the course, such as course syllabus, study period, and application information.

Application

For course offering

Spring 2025 Start 14 Jan 2025 programme students

Application code

61008

Headings with content from the Course syllabus KD2340 (Spring 2024–) are denoted with an asterisk ( )

Content and learning outcomes

Course contents

The power of thermodynamics, which remains one of the founding blocks of chemistry, is it generality. In most thermodynamic courses, however, the microscopic and molecular origin of the mechanisms on which it is based on are usually avoided. In this course we address this gap, developing a basic knowledge in statistical thermodynamics to understand the forces that drive molecules and be able to predict their combined behavior in physical, chemical, and biological systems.

During the course the following subjects will be discussed:

  • Principles of probability.
  • The Boltzmann distribution law.
  • The statistical mechanics of simple gases & solids and the molecular interpretation of temperature and heat capacity.
  • Chemical and phase equilibria.
  • Solutions, mixtures and transfer of molecules between phases.
  • Physical (i.e. diffusion, permeation and flow) and chemical kinetics.
  • Electrostatics: Coulomb’s Law, electrostatic potential and electrochemical equilibria.
  • Intermolecular interactions and phase transitions.
  • Adsorption, binding and catalysis.
  • Thermodynamic properties of water.
  • Introduction to the thermodynamics of polymer solutions.

After completion of the course, assuming attendance to every lecture and active participation in tutorials, the student should be able to:

  • Describe and apply the principles of probability to predict molecular behavior.
  • Describe and explain the concept of the Boltzmann distribution law, molecular partition function and partition function of a system.
  • Predict some macroscopic properties from atomic and molecular structures using statistical mechanics.
  • Describe the molecular interpretation of macroscopic properties such as energy, entropy, temperature and heat capacity.
  • Predict gas-phase chemical reaction equilibria from atomic structures.
  • Describe and explain phase equilibria based on the concept of chemical potential.
  • Describe the molecular properties of regular mixtures and predict phase separation in liquid mixtures.
  • Analyze physical kinetics phenomena in terms of non-equilibrium statistical mechanics.
  • Predict, using a statistical thermodynamic approach, how the rate of a chemical reaction depends on the molecular structures involved.
  • Combine the laws of electrostatics and thermodynamic equilibrium (i.e. Poisson-Boltzmann equation) to predict equilibria in solutions containing charged species.
  • Describe the intermolecular interactions that hold liquids and solids together.
  • Interpret phase transition diagrams in statistical thermodynamic terms.
  • Describe the processes of binding and adsorption to a surface.
  • Describe the anomalous thermodynamic properties of water and describe the origin of the hydrophobic effect.
  • Explain the molecular thermodynamic properties of simple macromolecules in solution. 

Intended learning outcomes

After completion of the course the student will be able to:

  • Describe in detail microscopic models and basic relationships in terms of entropy and enthalpy contributions that together determine the free energy for different molecular systems. 
  • Use the resulting formalism and concepts to describe and explain macroscopic behaviour in different materials and systems.

Literature and preparations

Specific prerequisites

Bachelor's degree within a programme that includes: 75 university credits (hp) in chemistry or chemical engineering, 20 university credits (hp) in mathematics and 6 university credits (hp) in programming or corresponding.

Recommended prerequisites

Basic knowledge in physics, quantum mechanics, and molecular structure and good knowledge in classical thermodynamics. This is an advanced course and is not recommended for students at bachelor level.

Equipment

No information inserted

Literature

Ken A. Dill and Sarina Bromberg, Molecular Driving Forces, 2nd Edition, Garland Science.  ISBN 978-0-8153-4430-8. Additional material will be provided during the course.

Examination and completion

If the course is discontinued, students may request to be examined during the following two academic years.

Grading scale

A, B, C, D, E, FX, F

Examination

  • TEN2 - Written exam, 7.5 credits, grading scale: A, B, C, D, E, FX, F

Based on recommendation from KTH’s coordinator for disabilities, the examiner will decide how to adapt an examination for students with documented disability.

The examiner may apply another examination format when re-examining individual students.

Other requirements for final grade

The final grade is based on the grade of the examination.

Opportunity to complete the requirements via supplementary examination

No information inserted

Opportunity to raise an approved grade via renewed examination

No information inserted

Examiner

Ethical approach

  • All members of a group are responsible for the group's work.
  • In any assessment, every student shall honestly disclose any help received and sources used.
  • In an oral assessment, every student shall be able to present and answer questions about the entire assignment and solution.

Further information

Course room in Canvas

Registered students find further information about the implementation of the course in the course room in Canvas. A link to the course room can be found under the tab Studies in the Personal menu at the start of the course.

Offered by

Main field of study

Chemical Science and Engineering, Chemistry and Chemical Engineering

Education cycle

Second cycle

Add-on studies

No information inserted

Supplementary information

Advice from previous students:

•The tempo is high, revise previous lecture scripts continuously during the course. Stay engaged with the course, and don't be afraid to ask questions because this subject is tough to chew. And the teachers are here to help you figure it out. … In the end, the richest learning experiences arise from banding together with other students and talking through the concepts. Putting your heads together and explaining to each other. Keep reminding yourself how these models relate to real-life problems. The amounts of links to real life applications are almost endless!

•Go to every lecture, and do not think that you can easily “catch up” by reading on your own if you miss it. The subject is challenging, and some parts of it will make you question yourself and the knowledge you have learned earlier. Do the homeworks and discuss in groups if possible. Ask the teachers questions when you don’t understand, I can promise you that you will not be the only one that has trouble understanding this course. At the end of the day, entropy describes life itself.

Best aspects of the course (previous students):

•it's probably the content itself which is the best part of the course. It links to almost everything we've done in our education so far, and everything we do can be applied to problems in other fields. It's really starting from the fundamentals, and working with this subject ties everything together under a big umbrella of understanding. I can't say I understand it all fully, but the amount of insight gained was tremendous, and I feel more confident with chemical problems in general after having had this course.

•It is one of the best courses I've taken at KTH. The concepts it teaches and discusses are important to any chemist, no matter which field you go into after graduation. The course had a good structure, and although it was very challenging, it was also very rewarding.