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Chapter 4

Study tips and resources for Chapter 4 – Physical Chemistry by Laidler, Meiser, Sanctuary

Chemical potential of a compound

This clip from the Physical Chemistry book explains how concentration changes with pressure. Changing the pressure on a gas can change the number of moles.

This leads us to the concept of the chemical potential: each compound has a potential to react and has its own molar Gibbs free energy. The greater the chemical potential is negative (at constant T and P) the greater the potential to react and minimize the Gibbs energy for the whole reaction.

Ratio of forward and reverse rate constants is equal to the equilibrium constant

In class, I used the animation in chapter 4- Approach equilibrium (page 4.28 of my Physical Chemistry book), to show that the ratio of the forward and reverse rate constants is equal to the equilibrium constant. Continue reading

The world of Equilibrium

Screen Grab of interactive anim - Le Chatlier's principle from Physical Chemistry Book

Chemistry would be a whole lot simpler if all the reactions would just make their expected products (or even some by-products) and then be done. Reactants and products have a mind of their own though and are influenced by temperature, concentration, some even by the weather (pressure)! Worse, some products can’t seem to make up their mind and turn back into reactants. Continue reading

Chemical Reactions; What? How much? How fast?

Standard Daniell Cell

Click to enlarge

When dealing with chemical reactants, three important questions are usually asked.

(1)    What product(s) can be made,

(2)    How much can be made and

(3)    How fast can it be made.  Continue reading

What is the Equilibrium Constant?

Equilibriam Constant

Screen grab showing equilibrium using interactive animation (with audo explanation) from chapter 4 (click to enlarge)

Equilibrium is certainly one of the most interesting topics for a chemist! However, it seems that to study it is neither easy (nor enjoyable) for our students. This is probably due to the inherent difficulty in handling a system not using a state function corresponding to an observable; using rather, this strange equilibrium constant, a “practical” interpretation of which may seem unclear. Continue reading

Try our bestselling undergraduate Physical Chemistry courseware

Thermodynamics Module - Physical Chemistry
Thermodynamics module
Chapters 1 to 6 of Physical Chemistry - Laidler, Meiser, Sanctuary


Includes multimedia that opens on relevant pages and allows the student to visualize many of the concepts by varying parameters and plotting different graphs. Things students often have difficulty with, such as isothermal, isobaric, isochoric and adiabatic process, are clearly visualized.

Get it from: Thermodynamics Module - Physical Chemistry



Physical Chemistry - Laidler, Meiser, Sanctuary
Physical Chemistry textbook
by Laidler, Meiser, Sanctuary


This popular Physical Chemistry text book is now available in electronic format. We have preserved much of the material of the former hard copy editions, making changes to improve understanding of the concepts in addition to including some of the recent discoveries in physical chemistry. Many chapters have new sections and the coverage of several chapters has been greatly expanded.

Get it from: Physical Chemistry - Laidler, Meiser, Sanctuary

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