Physical Chemistry

Physical Chemistry

Physical Chemistry

It is the study of matter on a molecular and atomic level in terms of the principles, practice, and concepts of physics. Physical chemists develop new theories to understand the matter. It is the branch of chemistry in which pure physics is applied to the chemical processes.


In 1752, Mikhail Lomonosov first used the term ”physical chemistry” when he was giving a lecture before the students of Petersburg University. In his lecture, he defined it as a science that explains the reason for what is happening in a complex system. Modern physical chemistry was developed in the 1860s to 1880s. In 1876, Josiah Willard Gibbs published a paper titled On the Equilibrium of Heterogeneous Substances. This paper gave the basis for physical chemistry.

Physical Chemistry

The 1st scientific journal of physical chemistry was the German journal titled Zeitschrift für Physikalische Chemie. This journal was founded in 1887 by Wilhelm Ostwald and Jacobus Henricus van ‘t Hoff. All these scientists were given the Nobel Prize in Chemistry.

In the following decade, developments include the application of statistical mechanics to the chemical system was made. Irving Langmuir made many contributions to these developments. Quantum mechanics into quantum chemistry was an important development in 1930. Linus Pauling made many contributions to this development. The most important development in 20th-century was spectroscopy. Further developments in this field include discoveries in nuclear chemistry and astrochemistry.

Duties of Physical Chemists

Physical chemists try to understand the physical properties of atoms and molecules. They work on chemical reactions to reveal the properties of matter. Their duty is to analyze materials, develop methods to test and characterize the properties of materials, and discover the usage of materials. Analytical instruments are used in physical chemistry labs. These instruments include lasers, mass spectrometer, nuclear magnetic resonance, and electron microscopes.

The discoveries in this field are based on the comprehension of chemical properties. Their chemical behaviors can be described by using theories of physics and mathematical computations. Physical chemists explain the properties and reactions of chemicals. They apply mathematical analysis and statistics to reveal hidden information about compounds. They develop mathematical equations that explain how compounds will react over time.

Branches of physical chemistry


It is the study of heat that is related to chemical reactions. A reaction involves the absorption or emission of heat.

Chemical kinetics

It is the study of rates of chemical reactions. Chemical kinetics is also called reaction kinetics.

Quantum Chemistry

It is the branch of chemistry that applies applications of quantum mechanics to chemical systems. Quantum chemistry is also called molecular quantum mechanics.


It is the branch of chemistry that deals with the chemical effects of light. It describes the chemical reactions caused by UV, visible light, and IR radiations.

Surface Chemistry

It is the study of physical  & Chemical chemist that is occurring at the two-phase interface which includes solid-vacuum interfaces,  solid-liquid interfaces, solid-gas interfaces,  & liquid-gas interfaces.

Solid-state Chemistry

It is the study of the preparation, structure, and properties of solid materials. It is also called material chemistry.


It is the study of the interaction between matter and electromagnetic radiations.

Biophysical Chemistry

It is the branch of chemistry that uses the concepts of physics and physical chemistry for the study of biological systems.

Physical Organic Chemistry

It is the branch of chemistry that applies physical chemistry to the study of organic molecules.


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