Basis of physical chemistry (2007/2008)

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Course code
Ugo Luigi Monaco
Teaching is organised as follows:
Unit Credits Academic sector Period Academic staff
mod. 1 3 CHIM/02-PHYSICAL CHEMISTRY 1° Sem Ugo Luigi Monaco
mod. 2 1 CHIM/02-PHYSICAL CHEMISTRY 1° Q Ugo Luigi Monaco

Learning outcomes

The course Elements of Physical Chemistry for the Degree program in Bioinformatics is aimed at the development of the necessary abilities to quantitatively decribe the macroscopic properties of chemical systems, specially of those of interest to the biologist. The course covers the theory of classical Thermodynamics and offers also an introduction to chemical kinetics. The use of a textbook in English is another important aspect of this course.


Module: mod. 1
Thermodynamics. Introduction. Description of a macroscopic system. State variables. Definition of the state of a system. Process. Heat and work. Work in the expansion of a gas. Other types of work. Mathematical description of a system with one or more independent variables. First law of Thermodynamics. Exaples of calculations using the first law. Molecular interpretation of energy variations.
Enthalpy and heat capacity. Measurement and calculation of enthalpy variations. Thermochemistry. Molecular interpretation of enthalpy variations. Cooperative processes. Thermodytnamic properties of water. Biological significance. Second law of Thermodynamics. Spontaneous processes. Entropy. Calculation of entropy veriations for some important processes. Molecular interpretation of entropy. Third law of Thermodynamics. Residual entropy.Examples of calculations. The Gibbs and Helmholtz free energies. The free energy spontaneity criterion. Physical meaning of the Gibbs and Helmholtz free energies. Chemical potential. Physical meaning. Chemical equilibrium. Equilibrium constant. Methods used to calculate and measure the free energy variations of chemical reactions.Influence of the temperature. Van't Hoff's equation. Biochemical examples. Denaturation of proteins. The hydriphobic effect. Phase equilibria. The phase ruler. The Clausius-Clapeyron equation. Phase transitions in biological systems. Other examples of biological applications of Thermodynamics.

Module: mod. 2

Chemical and Biochemical kinetics. Introduction to chemical kinetics. Methods. Reaction mechanism. Relationship between the rate constants and the equilibrium constant. Principle of microscopic reversibility. Determination of the reaction mechanism. Determination of the rate law. Methods. Integration of the rate laws. Arrenius's theory. Meaning of A and the activation energy. Eyring's theory. Free energy of activation. Experimental methods. Enzyme kinetics. The Michaelis-Menten model. Derivation of the rate law. Graphical methods used to extract the information: Eadie's and Lineweaver-Burk. Eyring's theory applied to enzymes. Factors that determine the catalitic properties of enzymes. Transition state analogues.

Assessment methods and criteria

Written and oral