Chemistry 384, Spring Semester 2017

Introduction to Physical Chemistry II

Professor Warren F. Beck

office: 3 Chemistry
contact: see directory listing
web: research, Chemistry department brochure page (pdf)


Syllabus (pdf)

This course provides an introduction to quantum mechanics and spectroscopy with an emphasis on applications in biochemistry and biophysics. It is intended for B.A-degree Chemistry majors and non-Chemistry majors, such as those in Biochemistry and in health-related fields. The CEM 483/484 sequence is intended for B.S.-degree Chemistry and Chemical Engineering majors.

The course outline is designed to give the student a better understanding of molecular structure and intermolecular forces, especially those in macromolecules. Aspects of statistical mechanics are included so that the concepts of populations in energy levels, temperature, and heat capacity can be discussed.

Schedule and Notes 

Lectures: MWF, 3:00–3:50 PM, room 1415 BPS. 

Discussion Sections: First meetings on 25 or 26 January 2016. See the schedule of courses for rooms and times.


  1. Principles of Quantum Mechanics
    1. Quantization and wavelike behavior of matter and radiation
    2. Classical Mechanics: harmonic oscillator
    3. Postulates of Quantum Mechanics
    4. Particle-in-a-box problem
    5. Harmonic and anharmonic oscillators
    6. Transition dipole moment and selection rules for optical transitions
  2. Statistical Thermodynamics
    1. Boltzmann distribution
    2. Partition function
    3. Heat capacity and vibrational modes
  3. Chemical Bonding and Electronic Structure
    1. Hydrogen atom
    2. Many-electron atoms
    3. Covalent bonding: valence and molecular orbital theories
    4. Diatomic molecules
    5. Polyatomic molecules
    6. Intermolecular forces: hydrogen bonds, van der Waals interactions
    7. Bonding in biological macromolecules
  4. Spectroscopy and Applications
    1. Photophysics
    2. Franck-Condon principle and vibronic structure
    3. Two-level systems: NMR, EPR, lasers, protein unfolding


See the Registrar's page on CEM 384 for the course description and formal prerequisites.

CEM 383 is recommended for background. The course is not open to students with credit in CEM 483.


Atkins, P.; de Paula, J. Physical Chemistry for the Life Sciences, 2e, W. H. Freeman, 2011.

This text is used in CEM 383, so it is the suggested text. The student can also use any standard pchem text in lieu of the above. A set of outlines and lecture notes written by the instructor will be posted on D2L.