Physical chemistry

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Physical chemistry, is the application of physics to macroscopic, microscopic, atomic, subatomic, and particulate phenomena in chemical systems[1] within the field of chemistry traditionally using the principles, practices and concepts of thermodynamics, quantum chemistry, statistical mechanics and kinetics.[2] It is mostly defined as a large field of chemistry, in which several sub-concepts are applied; the inclusion of quantum mechanics is used to illustrate the application of physical chemistry to atomic and particulate chemical interaction or experimentation.[1]

Physical chemistry is mostly referred to as a macromolecular doctrine, as the majority of the principles on which physical chemistry was founded are composed entirely of macromolecular concepts, such as colloids.[3]

The relationships that physical chemistry tries to resolve include the effects of:

  1. Intermolecular forces on the physical properties of materials (plasticity, tensile strength, surface tension in liquids).
  2. Reaction kinetics on the rate of a reaction.
  3. The identity of ions on the electrical conductivity of materials.


The term "physical chemistry" was probably first introduced by Mikhail Lomonosov in 1752, when he presented a lecture course entitled "A Course in True Physical Chemistry" (Russian: «Курс истинной физической химии») before the students of Petersburg University.

The foundation of modern physical chemistry is thought to have been laid in 1876 by Josiah Willard Gibbs after the publishing of his paper, On the Equilibrium of Heterogeneous Substances, which contained several of the cornerstones of physical chemistry, such as Gibbs energy, chemical potentials, Gibbs phase rule [4] and subsequent naming and accreditation of enthalpy to Heike Kamerlingh Onnes and to macromolecular processes.[citation needed]

The first scientific journal for publications specifically in the field of physical chemistry was the German journal, Zeitschrift für physikalische Chemie, founded in 1887 by Wilhelm Ostwald and Jacobus Henricus van 't Hoff.


  1. 1.0 1.1 Physical Chemistry (p3 - "PHYSICAL CHEMISTRY"), states that the field of physical chemistry is concerned with the microscopic and the macroscopic phenomenon which are mostly concerned with thermodynamics, and kinetics; the field of atomic and particulate interaction being included is implied with the inclusion of quantum chemistry.
  2. Quantum Chemistry (p3 - "PHYSICAL CHEMISTRY"), states that "We can divide physical chemistry into four areas: thermodynamics, quantum chemistry, statistical mechanics and kinetics".
  3. Physical Chemistry of Macromolecules (p1 - "INTRODUCTION"), defines the formation of physical chemistry as being between macromolecules and colloids in modern physical chemistry. Also defines the "fierce battles" in the 1900s between the inclusion of colloids AS macromolecules.
  4. Josiah Willard Gibbs, 1876, "On the Equilibrium of Heterogeneous Substances", Transactions of the Connecticut Academy of Sciences


  1. Levine, I. N. (1978). Physical Chemistry McGraw-Hill publishing ISBN 0-07-037418-X
  2. Atkins, P.W. (1978). Physical Chemistry Oxford University Press ISBN 0-7167-3539-X
  3. Berry, S. R., Rice, S. A, Ross, J. (2000). Physical Chemistry 2nd ed. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-510589-3
  4. Hunter, R. J. (1993) Introduction to Modern Colloid Science Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-855386-2
  5. Hiemenz, P. C., Rajagopalan, R., (1997). Principles of Colloid and Surface Chemistry Marcel Dekker Inc., New York. ISBN 0-8247-9397-8
  6. Moore, W.J. (1963). Physical Chemistry 4th ed. Longman publishers/London/Prentice Hall, NJ.

See also



af:Fisiese chemie ar:كيمياء فيزيائية bn:ভৌত রসায়ন bs:Fizikalna hemija bg:Физикохимия ca:Química física cs:Fyzikální chemie da:Fysisk kemi de:Physikalische Chemie el:Φυσικοχημεία eo:Fizika kemio fa:شیمی‌فیزیک fo:Alisevnafrøði gl:Química Física ko:물리화학 hr:Fizikalna kemija id:Kimia fisik it:Chimica fisica he:כימיה פיזיקלית lmo:Chímica física ms:Kimia fizik nl:Fysische chemie no:Fysikalsk kjemi nn:Fysikalsk kjemi sk:Fyzikálna chémia sr:Физичка хемија sh:Fizička hemija su:Kimia fisik fi:Fysikaalinen kemia sv:Fysikalisk kemi th:เคมีฟิสิกส์ uk:Фізична хімія