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Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Principles of Chemical Science (Fall 2014)

Massachusetts Institute of Technology via MIT OpenCourseWare


Course Features

  • Video lectures
  • Captions/transcript
  • Special feature - video
  • Lecture notes
  • Assignments: problem sets with solutions
  • Exams and solutions
  • Resource Index

Educator Features

  • Instructor insights

Course Description

This course provides an introduction to the chemistry of biological, inorganic, and organic molecules. The emphasis is on basic principles of atomic and molecular electronic structure, thermodynamics, acid-base and redox equilibria, chemical kinetics, and catalysis. One year of high school chemistry is the expected background for this freshman-level course.

The aims include developing a unified and intuitive view of how electronic structure controls the three-dimensional shape of molecules, the physical and chemical properties of molecules in gases, liquids and solids, and ultimately the assembly of macromolecules as in polymers and DNA. Relationships between chemistry and other fundamental sciences such as biology and physics are emphasized, as are the relationships between the science of chemistry to its applications in environmental science, atmospheric chemistry and electronic devices.


Professor Drennan would like to acknowledge the contributions of MIT Lecturer Dr. Elizabeth Vogel Taylor, Professor Sylvia Ceyer, and Professor Robert Silbey to the development of this course and its materials.


1. The Importance of Chemical Principles.
2. Atomic Structure.
3. Wave-Particle Duality of Light.
4. Wave-Particle Duality of Matter; Schrödinger Equation.
5. Hydrogen Atom Energy Levels.
6. Hydrogen Atom Wavefunctions (Orbitals).
7. Multielectron Atoms.
8. The Periodic Table and Periodic Trends.
9. Periodic Table; Ionic and Covalent Bonds.
10. Lewis Structures.
11. Formal Charge and Resonance.
12. The Shapes of Molecules: VSEPR Theory.
13. Molecular Orbital Theory.
14. Valence Bond Theory and Hybridization.
15. Thermodynamics: Bond and Reaction Enthalpies.
16. Thermodynamics: Gibbs Free Energy and Entropy.
17. Thermodynamics: Now What Happens When You Heat It Up?.
18. Introduction to Chemical Equilibrium.
19. Chemical Equilibrium: Le Châtelier’s Principle.
20. Solubility and Acid-Base Equilibrium.
21. Acid-Base Equilibrium: Is MIT Water Safe to Drink?.
22. Acid-Base Equilibrium: Salt Solutions and Buffers.
23. Acid-Base Titrations Part I.
24. Acid-Base Titrations Part II.
25. Oxidation-Reduction and Electrochemical Cells.
26. Chemical and Biological Oxidations.
27. Introduction to Transition Metals.
28. Transition Metals: Crystal Field Theory Part I.
29. Transition Metals: Crystal Field Theory Part II.
30. Kinetics: Rate Laws.
31. Nuclear Chemistry and Chemical Kinetics.
32. Kinetics: Reaction Mechanisms.
33. Kinetics and Temperature.
34. Kinetics: Catalysts.
35. Applying Chemical Principles.

Taught by

Prof. Catherine Drennan

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