Physical Chemistry Lab Chem 303-307 Syllabus

2022 Fall Semester

Professor: Frank Cheng,, 003 Renfrew Hall, Office Hours T, W, R, 1:30-3:30 pm.

Teaching Assistant: Forrest Dalbec,, Office Hours: TBA

Required Equipment: lab safety goggles, lab coat, pad lock, lab notebook and USB flash memory drive.

Required Reading: Read Safety in Academic Chemistry Laboratories. A hardcopy of this booklet is available in the lab and the PDF link is here. Also see NIOSH Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards


Week Number Week Beginning

1                      August 22                    No Labs

2                      August 29                    Select Team Members – Assign Labs – Begin Lab Preps

3                      September 5               Continue Lab – Prelabs (Experimental) are due.

4                      12                                Continue Lab

5                      19                                Finish up Lab

6                      26                                15-minute Team Presentation. Turn in PPT slides to TA.

7                      October 3                    Begin Second Lab Prep, first lab teams will act as consultants for the second lab teams

8                      10                                Continue Lab – Prelabs (Introduction and Experimental) are due.

9                      17                                Continue Lab

10                    24                                Finish Lab

11                    31                                15-minute Team Presentation. Turn in PPT slides to TA.

12                    November 7                Continue Lab – Prelabs are due.

13                    14                                Continue Lab

14                    28                                Finish Lab

15                    December 5                Individual Post-Lab Report 3-5 pages, Check out.     

One Page Handout for the Lab. These along with other materials will be emailed to you at the start of the semester. Please save them.

Current Labs.


1.      Heats of Combustion. J. Phys. Chem., 1968, 72, 222 Sime p420; Garland p145*

2.      Heat Capacity Ratio of Gases Sime p408; Garland p104

3.      Heats of Ionic Reactions, Garland p167, Anal. Chem. 1957, 29(1), 9*


4.      Conductance of Solutions, Sime p558; Garland p228, J. Chem. Eng. Data, 1972, 17, 55*

Transport and Bulk Properties

5.      Partial Molar Volume, Sime p500; Garland p172**

6.      Surface Tension of Solutions, Sime p514; Garland p292, Biochem. J., 1925, 19, 281-289

7.      Surface Tension of Solids, J. Chem Ed. 2000, 77, 63-65**

8.      Goniometry of water droplets, Young’s contact angles. J. Chem Ed.




*Labs that will focus on Chem 111, 112, 253 skills.

**Held in Reserve.

All labs will be done in duplicate with preference for triplicate runs.

·         The 15-minute presentation should be aimed at informing your classmates on the theory, experimental setup and results of the lab. Enough information should be provided for them to get a fast start on the lab.

·         During Lab Preps you are to locate the procedure, equipment and familiarize yourselves with the lab. You will discuss the lab theory with the TA.

Prelab and Postlab Reports: Experiments will be conducted by small groups (2-3) of students. For the individual lab reports, the data used by all members will be the same, however the analysis and description of that data must be each student’s own work. Reports may be checked for plagiarized material.

·         The Prelabs will be a description of the theory and purpose (Introduction) and procedure (Experimental) of the lab. Enough detail should be provided so that an educated 3rd party will be able to replicate the lab. See Journal of Physical Chemistry articles for examples. Descriptions of dilution factors should be omitted as it is assumed that scientists/engineers will know already how to do this. Simply stating that solutions were made with class A volumetric glassware suffices.  These should be emailed to the TA on their due dates by 8 am before the lab starts.

·         The Postlabs will consist of the Abstract, Results and Discussion, Conclusions and References of the labs, again see Journal Physical Chemistry series for examples. The edited prelab (Introduction and Experimental) will also be inserted into this report after the abstract.


·         The report layout should follow the Journal of Physical Chemistry format ( The report needs the following components, plus a title page that includes names of the experimenters: Abstract, Introduction, Experimental, Results, Discussion, Conclusions, References. Lab report requirements and point breakdowns will be described in a separate handout.

·         Reports containing plagiarized material will earn a grade of zero. Tips that will help you avoid plagiarism can be found at the following link: All students should do their own calculations.

·         It is a good idea to compare results with other group members to catch mistakes prior to turning in the laboratory report. The lab report must be typewritten in a modern, professional format. Use the equation editor when including equations in your report. Also use the endnote and cross-reference features of MS Word.

Notebook: At the end of each lab you must ask either the course instructor or the teaching assistant to sign your notebook. This requirement will provide you with an opportunity to request feedback on notebook keeping and writing lab notes. Ultimately, good note-keeping will help you write good reports. To acquire these points, by the end of the semester you must collect at least ten individual signatures.

Keeping a laboratory notebook is an important skill. All students are required to keep a detailed lab notebook of their procedures and results. Before coming to class, students are expected to prepare for lab by writing in their notebook the procedure they intend to carry out. As the procedure is carried out, notes on any deviations from the plan should be recorded. Data should also be recorded as it is collected.

Laboratory notebooks help ensure scientific integrity. All notes written in the notebook should be composed in ink. Nothing should be erased. If a mistake is made, draw a line to the mistake and note why that note was invalid.

Lab notebooks should have numbered pages and be hardbound (not spiral-bound). A lab notebook need not be perfect, but it should be legible. The notebook will be graded periodically for completeness and organization.

The lab notebook should contain the following:

1) Dates for every entry.

2) Title and brief description of the experiment

3) Experimental procedures (with additions and adaptations, as needed).

4) Data collected in lab, including units and uncertainties.

5) Identity, sources, and purities of all chemical used.

6) Relevant calculations needed for preparation of solutions and calculated concentrations for these solutions.

7) Copies of computer-generated plots, tables etc. (staple or tape these to a blank page in the notebook)

8) Water bath temperature, barometric pressure, etc. as relevant

9) Specific equipment used (type, brand, model, if available).

10) References to any books, websites, data tables, etc. you used to gather information about the experiment.

Grades. 400 total points. Presentation (100 points), team lab reports (prelab and postlab, 100 point), individual lab report (100 points), 50 points Lab participation and citizenship, 50 points lab notebook.

A: 400-350 points, B: 350-280, C: 280-220, D: below 220.


Review of Analytical Chemistry.

Physical Chemistry lab requires a background in proper handling of volumetric glassware. Most of these techniques were covered in Chem 111, 112 and 253. A series of YouTube videos offer refreshers on this subject.

·         Standardization of NaOH and NaCl solutions

·         Making solutions with volumetric flasks

·         Analytical Techniques

·         Solution Preparation

·         Buret Operation in Titrations