CHEM 435. Physical Chemistry Laboratory, 2 cr.

Spring Semester, 2017

Welcome to Chem 435


Physical Chemistry is made of 50 percent physics, 50 percent chemistry, ... and 50 percent imagination.

My Interpretation of a famous quote

When you can measure what your are speaking about, and express it in numbers, you know something about it; but when you cannot measure it, when you cannot express it in numbers, your knowledge is of a meagre and unsatisfactory kind.
Lord Kelvin

This course is intended to acquaint the students with the practice of experimental physical chemistry. Considerable effort has gone into linking the content of the labs with the topics of Chem 434 lectures. Nonetheless, the educational philosophy of the labs is that experimental physical chemistry has a life of its own. The pdf copy of the syllabus is also available.

The goal of the labs, therefore, is to provide a modest introduction to this area of scientific activity. Centuries of empiricism have been invested in man's present conceptual view of the physical world. It would be impossible to attempt to illustrate systematically the experimental basis of that view. Some principles will be illustrated in the labs, but many more will simply be applied to the problem at hand. Experimental work is an eminently practical activity. The program is designed to provide a limited encounter with its methods, its fruits, and undoubtedly with some of its frustrations as well.

Following objectives will be pursued:

Course - Requirements

Successful completion of the course requires:

One data analysis assignment. After the introduction lecture you will be given an assignment to get acquainted with data analysis.

10 laboratory experiments. This includes an oral pre-lab quiz for each experiment, performance of the experiment in the laboratory, and a written report for each lab. The labs are divided into two sets: thermodynamics and kinetics/spectroscopy. You need to finish all 10 labs. If you wish to do more than the required number of labs, special arrangements may be made with the instructor. The extra credit lab may be suggested by the student.

An oral presentation. You will give an oral presentation to the class about one of the labs from the course describing it to the other students in detail as independent research. Critique and suggestions about improvement of the lab would be particularly encouraged.

The student must complete all assignments to receive a passing grade.

Do not skip an experiment thinking you can afford to lose the points. Failure to complete all ten (10) experiments (including prelab quizzes), the oral presentation and the assignment will result in a failing grade for the course.


Students are expect to come prepared to conduct the experiments. The necessary material can be found on the web site and in the text book. Details are provided on the web sites for appropriate labs. Students will demonstrate their readiness in the prelab quizzes some of the questions from which are supposed to be answered in a written form in their lab notebooks before coming to the lab. Each quiz will be graded (it is worth 5 points maximum) and, based on the grade, students may or may not be allowed to conduct the lab (3 points is the lowest passing grade). Consult the lab's web page for prelab questions.


Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act (ADAAA) covers issues relating to disability and accommodations. If a student has questions or needs an accommodation in the classroom (all medical information is treated confidentially), contact: Trudy Luken, Director Student Accessibility Services (SAS) - Corbett Center, Rm. 244; Phone: (575) 646-6840; E-mail:

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Student Misconduct and Plagiarism:

The Student Code of Conduct defines academic misconduct, non-academic misconduct and the consequences or penalties for each. The Student Code of Conduct is available in the NMSU Student Handbook.

Plagiarism is using another person's work without acknowledgment, making it appear to be one's own. Intentional and unintentional instances of plagiarism are considered instances of academic misconduct and are subject to disciplinary action such as failure on the assignment, failure of the course or dismissal from the university. The NMSU Library has more information and help on how to avoid plagiarism

Communications by E-mail:

Feel free to use E-mail to ask questions about the course or material, or to inquire about making an appointment. Any requests for changes in the course requirements, such as changing a deadline must be made in person or by telephone before the deadline.

Last Updated on 01/17/17