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Author Topic: New to physical chemistry, what is the best text to understand it?  (Read 84443 times)

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Twickel

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Hi
I was wondering from your experiences, which is the best text book for understanding physical chemistry concepts. Something that explains the concepts well and keeps the maths simple or explains the maths well in a simple way. Not just 50 derivations

Thanks

Any websites would also be nice. Thanks
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SugarSkull

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Re: New to physical chemistry, what is the best text to understand it?
« Reply #1 on: April 20, 2012, 04:20:19 AM »

I found Elements of Physical Chemistry by Peter Atkins and Julio dePaula extremely helpful during my undergraduate. It's the reduced form of their more comprehensive Physical Chemistry textbook, so a lot of the more technical or wordy bits are taken out. The derivations are mostly kept in seperate boxes so you can ignore them if you want.
Amazon link: http://www.amazon.com/Elements-Physical-Chemistry-Peter-Atkins/dp/0716773295/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1334931565&sr=8-2
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dipesh747

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Re: New to physical chemistry, what is the best text to understand it?
« Reply #2 on: April 20, 2012, 04:49:13 AM »

I found Elements of Physical Chemistry by Peter Atkins and Julio dePaula extremely helpful during my undergraduate. It's the reduced form of their more comprehensive Physical Chemistry textbook, so a lot of the more technical or wordy bits are taken out. The derivations are mostly kept in seperate boxes so you can ignore them if you want.
Amazon link: http://www.amazon.com/Elements-Physical-Chemistry-Peter-Atkins/dp/0716773295/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1334931565&sr=8-2

Agreed, Atkins is by far the best physical chemistry book available for UG students.

The previous link was for an old edition. The newest edition is here http://www.amazon.com/Physical-Chemistry-Peter-Atkins/dp/1429218126/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1334933390&sr=1-1

If you can wait before you buy it I remember my head of department telling me this year that a new edition would be coming out soon and it has been radically changed so its easier to understand by making topics more self contained. He didn't say when it was being released though, so if you don't need it right now, wait until you do to see if you can get the newest one.
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Jorriss

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Re: New to physical chemistry, what is the best text to understand it?
« Reply #3 on: April 20, 2012, 06:01:34 PM »

I don't like how physical chemistry is treated myself. Physical chemistry is composed of four major areas - kinetics, statistical mechanics, quantum mechanics and thermodynamics and each really needs its own text in the same way in upper division physics you get separate specialized books on classical mechanics, E&M, etc. There is no best text to understand physical chemistry in the same way there is no text to understand physics.

For the quantum aspects of physical chemistry, get a book like McQuarrie. Personally, I don't like it a ton but it's the standard though I feel one is better off with a pure quantum mechanics to start.

For thermodynamics, a book like Schroeder thermal physics is better than levine or atkins and has enough chemical applications.

For statistical mechanics get a book like McQuarrie, Statistical Mechanics.

For kinetics, maybe Houston?

From what I've seen, most physical chemistry texts handle Thermodynamics alright but then collapse everywhere else.
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fledarmus

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Re: New to physical chemistry, what is the best text to understand it?
« Reply #4 on: April 21, 2012, 07:03:52 AM »

For thermodynamics, I actually got a lot more out of the fundamental chemical engineering texts than out of the physical chemistry texts. The approach was much better focused on things that could be seen and felt, which suited my way of learning. YMMV.
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Schrödinger

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Re: New to physical chemistry, what is the best text to understand it?
« Reply #5 on: September 15, 2012, 06:39:54 AM »

Ok quick question : Atkins 8th ed or Levine 5th ed for physical chemistry? I really want to understand the concepts, and not just solve problems.
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Jorriss

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Re: New to physical chemistry, what is the best text to understand it?
« Reply #6 on: September 15, 2012, 07:38:29 AM »

Ok quick question : Atkins 8th ed or Levine 5th ed for physical chemistry? I really want to understand the concepts, and not just solve problems.
For what? Thermodynamics? Quantum? Stat mech?

In any event, the answer is always use a specialized book, but... If you want to use a physical chemistry text, levine is pretty solid on thermodynamics, but the text is utterly useless for everything else. It is literally garbage beyond thermodynamics. McQuarrie is probably the best of p. chem books. He includes chapters on topics that are important but neglected in other texts, such as lasers.
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Schrödinger

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Re: New to physical chemistry, what is the best text to understand it?
« Reply #7 on: September 15, 2012, 08:19:54 PM »

Thermodynamics basically. I know Atkins explains concepts pretty well and the questions are of good standard as well, but is Levine as good (or better) than Atkins when it comes to thermodynamics?
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"Destiny is not a matter of chance; but a matter of choice. It is not a thing to be waited for; it is a thing to be achieved."
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Jorriss

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Re: New to physical chemistry, what is the best text to understand it?
« Reply #8 on: September 17, 2012, 02:59:18 AM »

Thermodynamics basically. I know Atkins explains concepts pretty well and the questions are of good standard as well, but is Levine as good (or better) than Atkins when it comes to thermodynamics?
I can't compare the two. I just know that if the course does anything other than thermodynamics, Levine is useless. His book is fine for thermodynamics though. I really do think a book like Schroeder, Thermal Physics should be used as well to learn the actual thermodynamics and just use the p. chem book for chemical applications (though Schroeder does cover a lot of them).
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sdfsfgfdgdfdf

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Re: New to physical chemistry, what is the best text to understand it?
« Reply #9 on: September 30, 2012, 09:36:42 AM »

I completely agree with Jorriss. Physical chemistry is a very wide field, no book can cover all of it. For every area its best to use a specialized book.

As for derivations, I don't think anyone can get away without them. You either accept that physical chemistry requires a good knowledge of maths and physics or you simply don't study it at all. It's very unlikely that you will truly understand physical chemistry without understanding the mathematical explanation. Personally, I have always used physics and maths literature to help me out with the physical chemistry subjects at my university. 

I'm not from the US or at a US university, so I don't know that much about the literature available there, but we did use Atkins 8th ed and I would never recommend that book to anyone for a number of reasons. They try to be the physical chemistry book that covers everything, but in the end its just a book that gives no real knowledge. The writing style is very dull and impersonal. Their section on spectroscopy is very poor. It has many errors. The section on thermodynamics is very basic compared to what we studied in our course on thermodynamics. The derivations are very badly explained, and you can't really avoid them if you want to understand the formula that are given. The physical-mathematical steps of every derivation are skipped. I don't understand why this is done. If they expected that chemistry students would naturally know these concepts they were wrong. If they thought the reader would not be interested in this, again they were wrong. I would only recommend Atkins as a sort of guide of the different areas in physical chemistry, but still you have to find better, specific literature for each of these areas.
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sdfsfgfdgdfdf

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Re: New to physical chemistry, what is the best text to understand it?
« Reply #10 on: September 30, 2012, 09:40:44 AM »

I just remembered another thing. I would also not recommend to rely on just one source. Its always better to see several different approaches. Where one book falls short, another will compensate.
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ichidp

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Re: New to physical chemistry, what is the best text to understand it?
« Reply #11 on: November 11, 2012, 10:10:20 PM »

Agree to ATKINS too. :D
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Big-Daddy

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Re: New to physical chemistry, what is the best text to understand it?
« Reply #12 on: March 05, 2013, 07:59:48 AM »

I don't like how physical chemistry is treated myself. Physical chemistry is composed of four major areas - kinetics, statistical mechanics, quantum mechanics and thermodynamics and each really needs its own text in the same way in upper division physics you get separate specialized books on classical mechanics, E&M, etc. There is no best text to understand physical chemistry in the same way there is no text to understand physics.

For the quantum aspects of physical chemistry, get a book like McQuarrie. Personally, I don't like it a ton but it's the standard though I feel one is better off with a pure quantum mechanics to start.

For thermodynamics, a book like Schroeder thermal physics is better than levine or atkins and has enough chemical applications.

For statistical mechanics get a book like McQuarrie, Statistical Mechanics.

For kinetics, maybe Houston?

From what I've seen, most physical chemistry texts handle Thermodynamics alright but then collapse everywhere else.

What would you recommend for an undergraduate?

I'm looking at: kinetics, thermodynamics, equilibria (chemical and ionic, inc. phase equilibria), solid liquid and gaseous state theory, solutions (through Raoult's law, colligative properties, and whatever stuff comes immediately next), electrochemistry, surface chemistry

I'm happy to buy around 3 books if you would recommend it, but I do want each topic covered in decent detail (e.g. definitely covering things like mass balance and charge balance with regards to acid/base, ionic equilibria, etc., covering equilibria with kinetics, etc., and preferably the slightly higher stuff as well).
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Corribus

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Re: New to physical chemistry, what is the best text to understand it?
« Reply #13 on: March 05, 2013, 05:17:04 PM »

For me, McQuarrie and Simon is the best general physical chemistry textbook available.  It's not particularly beautiful to look at, and it's a bit math heavy for what most undergrads would prefer, but I've always liked its molecular approach to the topic.  Atkins and de Paula has better diagrams and is probably less intimidating, and is also probably more widely used right now.  It also covers a lot more ancillary topics that you might be interested in. 

(As a sort of side-bar, Julio de Paula was one of my undergraduate chemistry professors, so I know well the way he teaches. He wasn't an author of the textbook yet at the time I took his class, though.  And as another side bar, Peter Atkins is something of an amateur philosopher and a prolific popular science writer, although his views have stirred controversy because he is a secular humanist with a pension for rabidly criticising religion.  Even so, some of his books are worth a read if you're into popular science, science philosophy, the nature of the universe, that kind of thing.)
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Big-Daddy

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Re: New to physical chemistry, what is the best text to understand it?
« Reply #14 on: March 09, 2013, 02:37:45 AM »

For me, McQuarrie and Simon is the best general physical chemistry textbook available.  It's not particularly beautiful to look at, and it's a bit math heavy for what most undergrads would prefer, but I've always liked its molecular approach to the topic.  Atkins and de Paula has better diagrams and is probably less intimidating, and is also probably more widely used right now.  It also covers a lot more ancillary topics that you might be interested in. 

(As a sort of side-bar, Julio de Paula was one of my undergraduate chemistry professors, so I know well the way he teaches. He wasn't an author of the textbook yet at the time I took his class, though.  And as another side bar, Peter Atkins is something of an amateur philosopher and a prolific popular science writer, although his views have stirred controversy because he is a secular humanist with a pension for rabidly criticising religion.  Even so, some of his books are worth a read if you're into popular science, science philosophy, the nature of the universe, that kind of thing.)

McQuarrie and Simon's seems aptly detailed (maybe even more than I need) on most topics. Can you recommend something (maybe on the side) which covers ionic equilibria (acid-base, solubility, complexation, spectrophotometric determination calculations) and electrochemistry, in the same kind of detail? (As these seem to be lacking in McQuarrie and Simon's)
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