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The Chemical Educator

ISSN: 1430-4171 (electronic version)

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Abstract Volume 12 Issue 2 (2007) pp 89-93

Examining Gas Kinetics in MATLAB

Yael Elmatad, Michael Zitolo, Daniela Fera, and Alexej Jerschow*

Department, New York University, Chemistry New York, NY 10003,
Received June 22, 2006. Accepted February 24, 2007.

Published online: 1 April 2007

Abstract. Kinetic gas theory is a standard component of the physical chemistry undergraduate curriculum. Its central topic is frequently the derivation of the Maxwell–Boltzmann speed distribution and the different speed averages, such as the mean speed, the root-mean-square speed, and the most probable speed. We describe a student project in which the emergence of this speed distribution can be studied from basic principles. We choose MATLAB as the programming environment for its ease of use and graphical capabilities, which allows students without programming experience to obtain results quickly. Because the students program their own gas simulation software, they are able to study many fundamental issues of gas kinetics in detail, which otherwise remain obscure by using a third-party program, or by studying the equations in the course.

Key Words: Computers in Chemistry; physical chemistry, kinetics

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Issue date: April 1, 2007

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