Aims/Description: This unit explores the physical chemistry of condensed matter. The principal routes to synthetic polymers are described and their kinetics explored. The relationship between polymer structure and properties is described. The different types of intermolecular forces are examined and their strengths compared. Forces at surfaces are examined. The adsorption of gases onto solid surfaces, and its role in heterogeneous catalytic systems, is described. Illustrations are provided of the use of surface science methods to understand catalytic processes, including the synthesis of ammonia by the Haber-Bosch process. The basic physical chemistry of colloidal systems is described and some of their many applications introduced. The module continues by considering chemical pollution of the environment and the main analytical technologies for the monitoring of inorganic and organic pollutants. Finally, the electronic spectroscopy of the hydrogen atom, and of hydrogenic and multi-electron atoms is described. The concepts are illustrated by considering applications of atomic spectroscopy in a range of sciences and technologies. This unit will draw on material covered in preceding units in a synoptic application of basic chemical principles to solve a variety of problems related to physical chemistry. It also incorporates the further development of laboratory techniques utilised in contemporary physical chemistry.

Teaching Methods: Lectures, Problem solving, Laboratory work, Independent Study
Assessment: Formal Exam, Practical skills assessment

Information on the department responsible for this unit (Chemistry):

Departmental Home Page
Teaching timetable


The content of our courses is reviewed annually to make sure it's up-to-date and relevant. Individual modules are occasionally updated or withdrawn. This is in response to discoveries through our world-leading research; funding changes; professional accreditation requirements; student or employer feedback; outcomes of reviews; and variations in staff or student numbers. In the event of any change we'll consult and inform students in good time and take reasonable steps to minimise disruption.

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Teaching methods and assessment displayed on this page are indicative for 2021-22. Students will be informed by the academic department of any changes made necessary by the ongoing pandemic.

Western Bank, Sheffield, S10 2TN, UK