Please note: the information in the course manual is binding.
This course will introduce you to the basic concepts, principles and methods of physical chemistry that are used to characterize the properties of earth materials and to study equilibrium states and the direction of chemical and morphological transformations in earth systems.
By the end of the first part of the course you will understand the basic concepts of the classical macroscopic approach to equilibrium thermodynamics. You will be able to apply the related equations to calculate changes in state variables characterizing the systems upon (i) exchange of heat and work between the system and its surrounding, (ii) chemical reactions and (iii) mixing of constituents. Based on these you will be able to evaluate whether a system is in equilibrium, whether a process is reversible or irreversible and whether it can or cannot occur spontaneously. Also you will be able to apply the concepts to describe, understand, and predict phenomena in earth systems including: air movement in the atmosphere, formation of solid solutions, and mineral transformations during metamorphism.
In the second part of the course you will become familiar with the concepts of the microscopic approach to equilibrium thermodynamics, including basics of quantum and statistical mechanics. You will understand how and why material's internal energy, entropy and heat capacity depend on temperature, and will be able to calculate their values for a range of materials, including gases and simple solids, using only the microscopic properties of their atomic or molecular constituents.
The course is organized in two parts. In the first part, the basic concepts of the classical macroscopic approach to equilibrium thermodynamics will be introduced. In the second part, a microscopic approach will be presented in order to understand the properties of materials and systems based on the knowledge of individual atoms and molecules and their interaction. Following topics will be discussed:
Development of Transferable Skills
- Macroscopic approach
- Heat versus work
- The First and Second Laws of Thermodynamics
- Thermochemistry, Carnot Cycle, Entropy
- Gibbs and Helmholtz Energies
- Non-Electrolyte and Electrolyte Solutions
- Chemical Equilibrium
- Microscopic approach
- Atomic structure of materials
- Basics of quantum mechanics: structure of available energy levels
- Basics of statistical mechanics: micro- versus macro-states, equipartition theorem, Boltzmann's definition of entropy
- Boltzmann, Fermi-Dirac and Bose-Einstein distribution
- Heat capacity of gases and solids
- Ability to work in the team: Conceptual questions are discussed in groups and answers have to prepared in the form of Wikis as a group effort.
- Problem solving: students learn how problems in Earth Sciences can be approached and solved using principles from thermodynamics.
- Verbal communication skills: students have to learn to explain thermodynamic principles, which is practiced in group discussion and assessed in oral examinations.
- Analytical / quantitative skills: Students learn to carefully solve quantitative, thermodynamic problems.