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How much quantum mechanics are in quantum chemistry?

  1. Oct 21, 2013 #1
    So I am a chemistry major, but really like math and physics as well. I was wondering how necessary it would be to take quantum physics after taking two semesters of physical chemistry. I go to a small school and there aren't a host of physics classes, so quantum physics is the end of its road and isn't a prerequisite for any other classes, but I was wondering if it would even be worth taking after two semesters of physical chemistry. Thanks in advance.
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 21, 2013 #2


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    Staff: Mentor

    Depends on what is in the physical chemistry. I have seen physical chemistry courses that were heavy on thermodynamics, liquid/vapor equilibrium, things like viscosity, surface tension and so on, with no mentioning of quantum mechanics. Quantum chemistry was offered as a separate, required course.
  4. Oct 21, 2013 #3
    It's nowhere near the level that the physicists do it, but as a chemists, we don't need that deep of an understanding for most of our work unless you're a theorist.
  5. Oct 21, 2013 #4
    What do you want to do? The topics covered in a quantum chemistry or physical course generally diverge fairly quickly from a pure quantum mechanics class.
  6. Oct 21, 2013 #5


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    Science Advisor

    The basics of quantum mechanics are the same in chemistry and physics. There are very few exact solutions beyond a few simple systems like the harmonic oscillator and the hydrogen atom. So the difference between quantum chemistry and quantum physics is basically the sorts of approximations which are useful, how much symmetry there is in a problem etc. So eg. Macquarrie's quantum chemistry text is a perfectly good introduction to quantum mechanics.
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2013
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