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Physical Chemistry, 9th Edition


Author: Peter Atkins and Julio de Paula

Publisher: W. H. Freeman


Publish Date: December 18, 2009

ISBN-10: 1429218126

Pages: 1060

File Type: PDF

Language: English

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Book Preface

We have followed our usual tradition in that this new edition of the text is yet another thorough update of the content and its presentation. Our goal is to keep the book flexible to use, accessible to students, broad in scope, and authoritative, without adding bulk. However, it should always be borne in mind that much of the bulk arises from the numerous pedagogical features that we include (such as Worked examples, Checklists of key equations, and the Resource section), not necessarily from density of information.

The text is still divided into three parts, but material has been moved between chapters and the chapters themselves have been reorganized. We continue to respond to the cautious shift in emphasis away from classical thermodynamics by combining several chapters in Part 1 (Equilibrium), bearing in mind that some of the material will already have been covered in earlier courses. For example, material on phase diagrams no longer has its own chapter but is now distributed between Chapters 4 (Physical transformation of pure substances) and 5 (Simple mixtures). New Impact sections highlight the application of principles of thermodynamics to materials science, an area of growing interest to chemists.

In Part 2 (Structure) the chapters have been updated with a discussion of contemporary techniques of materials science—including nanoscience—and spectroscopy. We have also paid more attention to computational chemistry, and have revised the coverage of this topic in Chapter 10.

Part 3 has lost chapters dedicated to kinetics of complex reactions and surface processes, but not the material, which we regard as highly important in a contemporary context. To make the material more readily accessible within the context of courses, descriptions of polymerization, photochemistry, and enzyme- and surface-catalysed reactions are now part of Chapters 21 (The rates of chemical reactions) and 22 (Reaction dynamics)—already familiar to readers of the text—and a new chapter, Chapter 23, on Catalysis.

We have discarded the Appendices of earlier editions. Material on mathematics covered in the appendices is now dispersed through the text in the form of Mathematical background sections, which review and expand knowledge of mathematical techniques where they are needed in the text. The review of introductory chemistry and physics, done in earlier editions in appendices, will now be found in a new Fundamentals chapter that opens the text, and particular points are developed as Brief comments or as part of Further information sections throughout the text. By liberating these topics from their appendices and relaxing the style of presentation we believe they are more likely to be used and read.

The vigorous discussion in the physical chemistry community about the choice of a ‘quantum first’ or a ‘thermodynamics first’ approach continues. In response we have paid particular attention to making the organization flexible. The strategic aim of this revision is to make it possible to work through the text in a variety of orders and at the end of this Preface we once again include two suggested paths through the text. For those who require a more thorough-going ‘quantum first’ approach we draw attention to our Quanta, matter, and change (with Ron Friedman) which covers similar material to this text in a similar style but, because of the different approach, adopts a different philosophy.

The concern expressed in previous editions about the level of mathematical ability has not evaporated, of course, and we have developed further our strategies for showing the absolute centrality of mathematics to physical chemistry and to make it accessible. In addition to associating Mathematical background sections with appropriate chapters, we continue to give more help with the development of equations, motivate them, justify them, and comment on the steps. We have kept in mind the struggling student, and have tried to provide help at every turn.

We are, of course, alert to the developments in electronic resources and have made a special effort in this edition to encourage the use of the resources on our website (at In particular, we think it important to encourage students to use the Living graphs on the website (and their considerable extension in the electronic book and Explorations CD). To do so, wherever we call out a Living graph (by an icon attached to a graph in the text), we include an interActivity in the figure legend, suggesting how to explore the consequences of changing parameters.

Many other revisions have been designed to make the text more efficient and helpful and the subject more enjoyable. For instance, we have redrawn nearly every one of the 1000 pieces of art in a consistent style. The Checklists of key equations at the end of each chapter are a useful distillation of the most important equations from the large number that necessarily appear in the exposition. Another innovation is the collection of Road maps in the Resource section, which suggest how to select an appropriate expression and trace it back to its roots.

Overall, we have taken this opportunity to refresh the text thoroughly, to integrate applications, to encourage the use of electronic resources, and to make the text even more flexible and up-to-date.

Oxford P.W.A.
Portland P.

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