Physical chemistry - quantum mechanicsPhysical chemistry - statistical mechanicsPhysical chemistry - thermodynamics

Physical chemistry - quantum mechanics 
Horia Metiu     
Taylor and Francis | 2006 | 352 pp | ?19.99 | ISBN 0815340877  

Physical chemistry - statistical mechanics 
Horia Metiu 
Taylor and Francis | 2006 | 236 pp | ?19.99 | ISBN 0815340850 

Physical chemistry - thermodynamics 
Horia Metiu 
Taylor and Francis | 2006 | 568 pp | ?20.99 | ISBN 0815340915 

All reviewed by Mike Ashfold

Sentiments expressed in the preface to these volumes will resonate with many physical chemistry teachers. One motivation for Metiu putting fingers to keyboard was his view that few existing texts presented the appropriate material in quite the manner he wished. Another was the way in which, until very recently, material taught in undergraduate physical chemistry classes was, of necessity, illustrated by numerical problems that could be solved with a pocket calculator. Thus, as Metiu comments, the ideal gas law apparently reigns supreme, nearly all mixtures are ideal, enthalpies of reaction and entropies are assumed to be temperature independent quantities, consecutive and competitive reactions are rarely encountered, and most eigenvalue problems require solution of just a 2?2 matrix and yield answers that show little obvious agreement with experimental measurement.  

The present texts, which have developed from the recent undergraduate physical chemistry teaching programme at the University of California, Santa Barbara, US, attempt to advance the educational agenda by introducing more realistic and interesting illustrative calculations - many of which are to be solved using Mathematica or Mathcad programmes. The format is unusual for a physical chemistry text - four volumes, of varying lengths. The overall range of subject material is largely traditional, however, covering what most would recognise as the core elements of physical chemistry - particularly when viewed from the perspective of the practising physical chemist or chemical engineer. 

The chapters contained within each volume build logically, and are presented in an unusually informal style, with widespread use of I, we and you within the narrative. Key points within each chapter are illustrated by worked examples, and supplemented with additional exercises (derivations and/or calculations). Whenever appropriate, these exercises are also collated into workbooks, which are available on the CDRoms that accompany each volume. These programmes are intended as auxiliary materials. Metiu intends that each chapter can be followed without recourse to the accompanying workbook but, clearly, any diligent physical chemistry student with access to Mathematica or Mathcad will only gain by exploiting this resource.  

Metiu’s four-volume text is an ambitious attempt to present the traditional, core areas of physical chemistry in a fresh way, using modern symbolic manipulation programmes to perform many of the derivations and calculations. The endeavour deserves to succeed.  

I anticipate that the work will come to be seen as a yardstick against which other mainstream physical chemistry texts will be judged.