Chem 639 : Experimental Physical Chemistry (2-3 cr.)

This course is intended to acquaint graduate students with some contemporary techniques in experimental physical chemistry. The students are expected to:

Textbook (not required):

Garland, Nibler and Shoemaker; Experiments in Physical Chemistry, 7th edition. McGraw-Hill, 2002 (GNS)

Reference textbooks (not required)

Course - Requirements

Successful completion of the course requires:

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

b) 6 laboratory experiments. This includes pre-lab quizzes for each experiment, individually conducting the experiment (including a personal project for that lab), and a written report for each lab. For 2 credits, you can choose any 6 out of 9 currently offered:

- "Optical Spectroscopy. Origins of Color."
- "Thermodynamics of DNA Duplex."
- "Luminescence Quenching."
- "ESR Spectroscopy."
- "NMR Spectroscopy."
- "IR Spectroscopy"
- "Molecular Modeling"
- "Electrochemistry"
- "Raman Spectroscopy"

For 3 credits, you should finish all 9 experiments.

c) One critical review. You will critically review one report from your peer. Identification of weak and strong points in the report will be judged.

d) One oral presentation. You will give an oral presentation to the class about one of the labs from the course describing it in details as an independent research. Critique and suggestions about improvement of the lab would be particularly encouraged.

You must complete all assignments to receive a passing grade.

You may want to check the schedule for Chem435 to see if you would like to attend corresponding prelab lectures. The numbering of the labs is identical.

Prelab quizzes:

Each student must demonstrate satisfactory knowledge of the principles, objectives and experimental procedures involved in an experiment before beginning the experiment. Some answers to prelab quizzes (those that involve calculations) should be written in your notebooks and shown to your instructor. Each prelab quiz is worth a possible maximum of 5 points. If your grade is less than 3 points, you must repeat it before you can continue (final score = score of repeat)


You will have to schedule the experiments with the instructor and reserve the instrument, if necessary. Try not to overlap with Chem. 435 students! Note that you have to have an independent project related to each experiment, rather than extra credit, as it stated on the web for Chem 435 students. You can keep your own pace but each report should be turned in no later than 3 weeks from the day of your prelab quiz. It is expected that you submit at least four reports by March 5 and that your last report is turned in by May 10.

Lab Notebooks:

Each student must keep a laboratory notebook for this course. A spiral bound notebook is sufficient but I recommend something like Hayden & McNeil. Consult GNS, chapter I, for guidelines. Record all data and tape or staple in copies of all spectrometer and computer printouts. The notebooks will be graded separately. Your notebook is a proof that you actually did the experimental work. To avoid loss of data, it is recommended that notes are taken using carbon copies or that photocopies are made frequently as backup. Keep backup copies separate from originals.

Written reports:

Each written lab report is worth a maximum of 30 points. Consult the handout for the report format. An estimated point assignment for each section of the report is indicated in the handout. Grading for each lab may vary somewhat depending on the particular requirements of each. Due dates for reports are given on the attached syllabus. Students are encouraged to turn reports in early. Rewriting a report for a better grade is possible for early reports. No rewrites allowed after the due date.  There is a one point deduction for each day a report is late. This includes weekend days. No reports will be accepted more than 10 days late.


Any activities normally considered cheating (plagiarism, making up data etc.) are prohibited! With respect to the laboratory, you will collect data by yourself. You may (and should) discuss possible difficulties with other students and the instructor but your write-up should be done without any collaboration. If you are confused by what is considered plagiarism, please refer to NMSU library site on plagiarism at If you have any questions about application of the honor principle do not hesitate to ask me.

Last updated on 01/07/10