Course Meeting Times

Lectures: 3 sessions / week, 1 hour / session

Recitations: 2 sessions / week, 1 hour / session


This course will cover the following three major areas:

Principles of Statistical Mechanics

  • Ensembles and partition functions: canonical and microcanonical
  • Atomic and molecular degrees of freedom: translation, rotation, vibration, electronic, and nuclear spin
  • Chemical equilibrium and thermodynamic properties: entropy, enthalpy, free energy, chemical potential
  • Intermolecular potentials, equations of state

Solid State Chemistry

  • Models for solids: Einstein, Debye, metals, semiconductors


  • Kinetic theory of gases: pressure, effusion, transport
  • Rate theory: collision theory, transition state theory


Buy at Amazon Hill, Terrill L. An Introduction to Statistical Thermodynamics. New York, NY: Dover, 1987. ISBN: 9780486652429.

Reading Assignments

Readings of relevant pages in several standard texts are listed per lecture. No single textbook is satisfactory for the topics covered (and the level at which they are covered) in 5.62. It is expected that you will spend 5-10 minutes previewing each day's lecture notes before class.


Problem sets will be assigned weekly. The problem sets will be due in class. Lat problem sets will not be accepted, although adjustments for missed homework due to prearranged absences will be made in the final grades.


There will be three hour-long midterm exams and a three hour final exam.


Homework (8 problem sets) 25%
Three midterm exams (15% each) 45%
Final exam 30%