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The Chemical Educator

ISSN: 1430-4171 (electronic version)

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Abstract Volume 12 Issue 3 (2007) pp 137-141

Revitalizing Modern Thermodynamics Instruction with an Old Technique: A State Functions Table

Pablo A. Molina

Department of Chemistry, Murray State University, Murray, KY42071,
Received September 9, 2006. Accepted May 11, 2007.

Published online: 4 June 2007

Abstract. An inadequate familiarity with partial derivatives hinders studentsí progress in chemical thermodynamics where relationships between state functions are frequently obtained via mathematical manipulation of partial derivatives. This paper presents a state functions table (SFT) that follows previous tables compiled by Bridgman and Coomes. The SFT can be used as an instructional ancillary in physical chemistry courses to supplement traditional approaches to thermodynamic derivations, such as the use of fundamental equations and Maxwell relations. All partial derivatives (at either constant pressure, volume, or temperature) are expressed in terms of P, V, T and CP, the heat capacity at constant pressure. The SFT (1) eases the introduction to thermodynamics, (2) presents a simple formalism to learn the properties of partial derivatives and relationships between state functions and (3) offers students a stepwise technique to double-check results obtained with conventional methods.

Key Words: In the Classroom; phyiscal chemistry; thermodynamics

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Issue date: June 1, 2007

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