[The University of Leicester]     Department of Chemistry  [Picture]
 
   
 

Background

Thermodynamics is the basis of experimental science. Thermodynamics shows how observations (measurements) made in the laboratory are related. Thermodynamics is therefore concerned with macroscopic properties, the properties of systems containing many millions of molecules. Thermodynamics is based on two assertions which state that a given system has energy (symbol U) and entropy (symbol S). Thermodynamics is concerned with changes in both energy U and entropy S for a given system. Chemists introduce into thermodynamics the idea that there are molecules and a property defined as one mole contains 6.022045 x 10**23 defined elementary units. For example the electric charge on 1 mole of electrons equals the Faraday constant, 9.648 670 x 10**4 coulombs. Chemists develop the concept of energy from a macroscopic property to molecular properties such as bond energies, lattice energies and energies of reaction. Chemists develop the concept of energy into descriptions of spontaneous chemical reaction and the concept of chemical equilibrium at, for example, constant temperature and pressure.

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Last updated: 29 August 2004