Courses Taught

CHEM 09345 — Physical Chemistry (Thermo): Macroscopic Principle of Physical Chemistry

This course is an undergraduate junior level course, which covers basic physical principles of thermodynamics in both macroscopic and microscopic levels. The four laws of thermodynamics are introduced in the first part of the course. The concept of entropy is first introduced at macroscopic level. To gain a deeper understanding of this important thermodynamic state function, statistical thermodynamics is introduced in the second part of the course. The focus is on the concept of Boltzmann distribution and partition functions. With the proper fundamental knowledge established, the concepts of Gibbs free energy and equilibrium are introduced in the third part of the course. These concepts are first developed in gas phase, then to solution. Ideas of equilibrium in chemical systems, reversible and irreversible processes and how equilibrium can be influenced via physical changes in the environment, such as temperature and pressure, are then fully developed. In the last part of the course, chemical kinetics is introduced, starting with rate laws of simple chemical reactions and reaction mechanisms. The connection between rate constants and equilibrium constants are made for reversible reactions. Then the temperature dependence of reaction rates is developed. Finally, transition state theory is introduced, which provides a unified picture of thermodynamics and kinetics for chemical reactions.  

CHEM 09720 — Physical Inorganic Chemistry

This course is a graduate level course, and is focused on basic physical principles, experimental setup and applications of various spectroscopic methods, including Infrared, Raman, Electronic Absorption, Electron Paramagnetic Resonance, Mössbauer, as well as synchrotron radiation based methods, such as X-ray absorption and emission spectroscopies. These methods are widely used in many areas of chemical research. In this course, the focus is the applications of these spectroscopic techniques to the study of metal ions in biological systems. In order to understand the basic theoretical aspects of these techniques, an overview of various theoretical models is provided, which includes group theory, crystal field theory, molecular orbital theory, as well as quantum chemical description of multi-electron systems. This overview is followed by the discussion of detailed experimental aspects and case studies from contemporary literature. Recently developed synchrotron radiation-based techniques are also introduced at the later stage of the course.

CHEM 09521/09721 — Metals in Biology: Function and Reactivity

Metal ions play important roles in many biological processes, including photosynthesis, respiration, global nitrogen cycle, carbon cycle, antibiotics biosynthesis, gene regulation, bio-signal sensing, and DNA/RNA repair, just to name a few. Usually, metal ions are embedded in protein scaffold to form active centers of proteins in order to catalyze a broad array of chemical transformations, which are essential in supporting the biological processes mentioned above. These metal containing proteins, or metalloproteins, account for half of all proteins discovered so far. In this course, the relation between the chemical reactivity and the structure of metalloproteins will be discussed in detail. The main focus is to illustrate the geometric and electronic structure of metal centers and their interactions with the protein environment in governing the chemical reactivity of metalloproteins. The applications of these principles in designing biomimetic/bioinspried inorganic catalysts and in engineering metalloproteins bearing novel chemical reactivity will also be discussed. The basic principles of the frequently utilized physical methods in this research area will also be introduced, which include optical absorption spectroscopy, Infrared (IR) and Raman spectroscopies, Mössbauer spectroscopy, electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR), X-ray absorption and diffraction techniques.