5.61 | Fall 2017 | Undergraduate

Physical Chemistry


Course Meeting Times

Lecture: 3 sessions / week, 1 hour / session

Recitation: 2 sessions / week, 1 hour / session


The prerequisites for this course are 8.02 Physics II: Electricity and Magnetism, 18.02 Multivariable Calculus, and either 3.091 Introduction to Solid State Chemistry or 5.111 Principles of Chemical Science.

Course Description

This course is an introduction to quantum mechanics for use by chemists. Topics include particles and waves, wave mechanics, semi-classical quantum mechanics, matrix mechanics, perturbation theory, molecular orbital theory, molecular structure, molecular spectroscopy, and photochemistry. Emphasis is on creating and building confidence in the use of intuitive pictures.



Problems will be assigned every week after the Friday lectures, except when an exam is scheduled for the following week. Late problem sets are not accepted. Solutions to the problem sets will be posted on the course website. Homework will be graded by the recitation instructors and returned in recitation. 


There will be three ~50 minute examinations during the term and an officially scheduled 180-minute final examination during Final Exam week. An information sheet summarizing details of the examinations will be distributed before each examination. All of the exams will be closed-notes (except for one 8.5" X 11" sheet of student-prepared notes) and closed book. 


Three Exams 300
Homework 100
Final Exam 200


McQuarrie, Donald A. Quantum Chemistry, 2nd Edition. University Science Books, 2007. ISBN: 9781891389504. 

Books for Class Readings

Field, Robert W. Spectra and Dynamics of Small Molecules. Springer, 2015. ISBN: 9783319159577. 

Cohen-Tannoudji, Claude, Bernard Diu, and Franck Laloë. Quantum Mechanics. Wiley, 1991. ISBN: 9780471164333. 

Other Books

Atkins, Peter, Julio dePaula, and James Keeler. Physical Chemistry, 11th edition. Oxford University Press, 2018. ISBN: 9780198769866.

Silbey, Robert J.,  Robert A. Alberty, and Moungi G Bawendi. Physical Chemistry, 4th Edition. Wiley. ISBN: 9780471215042. 

Karplus, Martin. Atoms and Molecules: An Introduction for Students of Physical Chemistry. Benjamin-Cummings Publishing Co., 1970. ISBN: 9780805352184.

Course Info

As Taught In
Fall 2017
Learning Resource Types
Lecture Videos
Exams with Solutions
Lecture Notes
Problem Sets with Solutions