Chemistry books for physicists

In summary, I want to learn some chemistry, but I'm not motivated by the prospect of reading a massive text or doing countless exercises. I found a couple of papers that suggest the problem might be a conceptual approach, but I'm also open to suggestions on a better book. I would check out the openstax book, but ultimately I think the best way to learn chemistry would be to go to the library and look at several GenChem books.
  • #1
AndreasC
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I want (need tbh) to learn some chemistry. I'm pretty comfortable in my understanding of the standard QM I and II you'd learn at uni, and I'm decent at statistical physics. I am interested in condensed matter physics, and I would like to learn some chemistry. Well, more like "need", because it's mandatory for my uni. We have a class of general chemistry, but the lecturer is just HORRIBLE and there is just no point in watching the lectures. Also I am more interested in physical chemistry than whatever "general chemistry" is supposed to be (haven't figured out what it is supposed to be after watching a few lectures). My main concern is to learn, it is a pretty easy class and you could pass it without knowing anything about anything, but getting a good grade in that class would be a welcome bonus.

Now I did look around on the internet for various books etc. Issue is, chemists seem to LOVE writing massive texts that go on and on and on. I don't like big books very much. I don't have an issue with hard books. If a book is really hard but relatively short I can put in the effort to go through it, and I like hard exercises too. But I'm not a marathon guy, I just can't motivate myself to go through 1400+ pages, I just can't do it. I also wish to exploit the fact that I already know QM and I do have the math background, so preferably the book should assume that knowledge and not dwell on things I already know too much. On the other hand, I know next to nothing about chemistry. Any ideas?
 
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  • #2
One thing I ran into years ago was the discussion on Gibbs Free Energy and how the chemists used a different way to teach it from what we learned in physics with respect to enthalpy and entropy.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gibbs_free_energy

I don't recall the differences but remember always being confused by the chemist's version.
 
  • #3
jedishrfu said:
One thing I ran into years ago was the discussion on Gibbs Free Energy and how the chemists used a different way to teach it from what we learned in physics with respect to enthalpy and entropy.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gibbs_free_energy

I don't recall the differences but remember always being confused by the chemist's version.
Weird. These things are always annoying when they happen. Can't say I know what you are referring to though.
 
  • #5
With respect to your question on a chemistry book, would the openstax book serve it well?

It's freely available online and likely covers high school and first-year college-level chemistry concepts.

https://openstax.org/details/books/chemistry-2e

Similarly, Khan Academy videos may cover the same level of learning.
 
  • #7
jedishrfu said:
With respect to your question on a chemistry book, would the openstax book serve it well?

It's freely available online and likely covers high school and first-year college-level chemistry concepts.

https://openstax.org/details/books/chemistry-2e

Similarly, Khan Academy videos may cover the same level of learning.
I mean, that stuff is alright, I'm going to see the vids to get an overall background in chemistry, though I want something that goes beyond the basics.
 
  • #8
I would check the book out though as they often cover stuff beyond the basics in the hopes that they get some advanced students.

I remember from college that we would broach maybe 30-40% of a book even skipping some sections. I'm sure if we covered it all we would be well-prepped for higher level courses.
 
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  • #9
I am afraid I won't be of much help, as books I know are rather dated and in Polish.

Problem is, chemistry is much more descriptive than physics. There are typically way too many parallel, competing processes to allow for a "spherical cow" approach, exact rules are rare, rules of thumb are much more common, but very limited in scope. Reality is rich and that produces plenty of material, hence the voluminous books.

It is still better and much more strict than biology though ;)

Probably best thing you can try is to go the library, take several GenChem books from the shelf and browse them to see which one you like most. They all offer more or less the same material. QM won't help you with basics like stoichiometry and equilibrium, but if you feel comfortable with QM math level most GenChem subjects will be a breeze (you would be surprised how many GenChem students struggle with solving quadratics).
 
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  • #10
Borek said:
Probably best thing you can try is to go the library, take several GenChem books from the shelf and browse them to see which one you like most.
That would be a good idea, were libraries not closed due to COVID.

Up to stoichiometry I know, I remember some stuff from school.
 
  • #11
Any UG general chemistry textbook will do. As for "books" that go on and on, you just have to learn to filter out the fluff, i.e. ignore "Real world application" boxes as a rule and worked examples unless you need it to solve a problem. That said, most of gen chem can be learned from YouTube.

Borek said:
I am afraid I won't be of much help, as books I know are rather dated and in Polish.

Problem is, chemistry is much more descriptive than physics. There are typically way too many parallel, competing processes to allow for a "spherical cow" approach, exact rules are rare, rules of thumb are much more common, but very limited in scope. Reality is rich and that produces plenty of material, hence the voluminous books.

It is still better and much more strict than biology though ;)

Probably best thing you can try is to go the library, take several GenChem books from the shelf and browse them to see which one you like most. They all offer more or less the same material. QM won't help you with basics like stoichiometry and equilibrium, but if you feel comfortable with QM math level most GenChem subjects will be a breeze (you would be surprised how many GenChem students struggle with solving quadratics).

I find that math isn't really the limiting factor in gem chem, but rather getting an understanding of what's going on.
 
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  • #12
you need basic chemistry to be able to understand p-chem.
 
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  • #13
It’s not a general chemistry text, but a quantum chemist friend of mine swears by Chemical Bonds by Gray. It’s only a couple of hundred pages.
 
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  • #14
Dr Transport said:
you need basic chemistry to be able to understand p-chem.
As I said, the very basic stuff you learn in school I know (stoichiometry, I remember SOME organic chemistry, periodic table, orbitals etc). But nothing beyond that.
 
  • #15
Have you looked at Chemical Structure and Reactivity, Keeler/Wothers?
 
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  • #16
etotheipi said:
Have you looked at Chemical Structure and Reactivity, Keeler/Wothers?
No but I will.
 
  • #17
AndreasC said:
As I said, the very basic stuff you learn in school I know (stoichiometry, I remember SOME organic chemistry, periodic table, orbitals etc). But nothing beyond that.
Look into chemical thermodynamics, chemical equilibria, solubility, acid-base chemistry, redox/electro chemistry and reaction kinetics. Every decent UG textbook should cover these materials. Read them in whatever order they occur in the book.
 
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Related to Chemistry books for physicists

What is the purpose of chemistry books for physicists?

The purpose of chemistry books for physicists is to provide a comprehensive understanding of the fundamental principles and concepts of chemistry that are relevant to the field of physics. These books aim to bridge the gap between the two disciplines and help physicists apply chemical principles to their research and experiments.

What topics are typically covered in chemistry books for physicists?

Chemistry books for physicists cover a wide range of topics, including atomic and molecular structure, chemical bonding, thermodynamics, kinetics, and spectroscopy. They also delve into more advanced topics such as quantum chemistry and statistical mechanics.

Do chemistry books for physicists assume prior knowledge of chemistry?

It depends on the specific book, but most chemistry books for physicists do assume some basic knowledge of chemistry. However, they often provide a brief review of key concepts and equations to help readers who may not have a strong background in chemistry.

How can chemistry books benefit physicists?

Chemistry books can benefit physicists by providing them with a deeper understanding of the chemical processes that occur in their experiments and research. This can lead to more accurate and meaningful results, as well as the ability to design and conduct experiments that incorporate both chemical and physical principles.

Are there any recommended chemistry books for physicists?

There are many excellent chemistry books that are specifically geared towards physicists. Some recommended titles include "Chemical Physics" by J. M. Hollas, "Physical Chemistry for Physicists" by R. K. Prud'homme and P. J. Steinhardt, and "Chemistry for Physicists" by D. A. McQuarrie and J. D. Simon.

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