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The Chemical Educator

ISSN: 1430-4171 (electronic version)

Table of Contents

Abstract Volume 15 (2010) pp 195-201

Using Group Projects in Physical Chemistry Laboratory to Integrate Concepts in Quantum Mechanics and Spectroscopy

Susanna Pischek and Robert E. Barletta*

Department of Chemistry, University of South Alabama, Mobile, AL 36688,
Received July 9, 2009. Accepted December 19, 2009.

Published: 30 April 2010

Abstract. A project-based approach has been developed for the laboratory associated with the second-semester course in physical chemistry (quantum mechanics, spectroscopy and statistical thermodynamics). Students conduct both spectroscopic measurements and theoretic calculations on a molecule of environmental significance. Upon completion of the laboratory work, students in the laboratory section then prepare individual written research reports and an oral group report. The overall project structure as well as results obtained for selected molecules (carbon tetrachloride and carbon disulfide) is described. This approach allowed students to investigate the interrelationships between molecular structure and symmetry from a theoretical and experimental standpoint, and connect spectroscopic data with statistical thermodynamics. Moreover, students were afforded the opportunity to learn how to connect the properties measured on individual molecules within a flexible, cooperative framework in which information on different molecules is shared within a group to illustrate more general concepts.

Key Words: Laboratories and Demonstrations; physical chemistry; quantum mechanics; spectroscopy; statistical thermodynamics

(*) Corresponding author. (E-mail:

Article in PDF format (151 KB) HTML format

Supporting Materials:

The supporting file contains sample SPARTAN output for both carbon tetrachloride and dimethyl sulfide (191 KB).

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