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Does Quantum Mechanics contain Physical Chem?

  1. Mar 18, 2010 #1
    I'm not sure whether to just take Physical Chemistry because I'm interested in it or should I just take Quantum Mechanics? I've already taken Thermodynamics and I heard P-Chem is Thermo and Quantum combined. Is Quantum more in-depth than P-chem?
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 18, 2010 #2
    P-Chem depends on some facts from Thermo and QM, but it's really a completely separate discipline. Depending on your university, the course of physical chemistry may or may not include all the necessary prerequisite knowledge of quantum mechanics (which is only a small part of what you'd learn in a proper QM course).
  4. Mar 18, 2010 #3
    What sort of stuff that's covered in P-Chem that's not covered in Quantum Mechanics (I plan on taking both Quantum Mechanics I&II if I don't take P-Chem). What are the advantages of taking P-Chem when you're taking going to take Quantum?

    Thanks in advance!!
  5. Mar 18, 2010 #4
    Most chemistry departments offer two "levels" of Pchem. For chemistry majors there's usually a two semester sequence, one semester focusing on the thermo/stat mech side and one on quantum chemistry. For (most) biology majors and sometimes some chem majors (e.g., BA students at schools that have a BA/BS distinction) there's often a single course that covers some of both, though with a heavy emphasis on the thermo. So first you need to see specifically what's covered in the courses at your school.

    The quantum semester of Pchem will indeed not be nearly as deep as a standard two semester quantum sequence in the physics department. It will cover the basics of eigenfunctions, Schroedinger's equation, the hydrogen atom, spin, etc., but with a focus on chemically relevant issues. Thus it will not typically include detailed explorations of angular momentum/spin physics, uncertainty relations, multi-particle quantum systems (except in the specific context of atoms), scattering, fancy calculational methods, etc., not to mention the deeper aspects like symmetries and conservation laws.

    Which isn't to say that Pchem is worthless to the physics major -- if you're interested in quantum mechanics as it's applied to chemical systems, then the quantum semester of Pchem may be worth it to you, just as the thermo semester of Pchem will cover some chemical applications of what you learned in physics thermo.
  6. Mar 18, 2010 #5
    in particular to "applied chemical systems", a large section of that is spectroscopy.
    and when you model things like resonance, you can say its a "particle in a box" and how a larger area is "better" (you'll see it...)

    if you want to do "real quantum", you either need to take physics classes or graduate p-chem classes. thats what im doing...
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