Kinetics: Chemical Kinetics

  • Peter R. Bergethon


Throughout much of this book we have emphasized the description of a system in terms of an equilibrium state. This approach is invaluable when we are beginning study and are not exactly sure what the elements and linkages are that make up the rules of the system under study. Still, it seems to be a compulsive pulse-taking that is stodgy. We really want to get to the visceral issue, the focus of our curiosity. What are the details of how it works; what are the wheels and gears of the system? That question is not always easily answered, and, as we will see in the following section, is often approached using the thermodynamic tools we have already discussed. After all, knowing how the wheels and gears are arranged is invaluable when trying to understand how a machine works. However, the joy in it really comes from watching it in motion. For example, it is almost impossible to appreciate how the gears, valves, lifters, and cylinders in an internal combustion engine work without watching the thing go around. Observing a system move between states and discovering the path it takes to get there is the job of kinetics. Given the example of the engine, it seems likely that thermodynamic and kinetic analysis will be connected in some integrated fashion. We will find this to be true. Our task is to learn how we can capture the motion of a system’s machinery and learn from these motions: How does it do that?


Transition State Partition Function Saddle Point Potential Energy Surface Chemical Kinetic 
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  1. Guldberg C. M., and Waage P. (1867) Études sur les affinities chimiques, Christiania Ostwald’s Klassiker, no. 104, trans. in J. R. Partington’s A Short History of Chemistry ( 1989 ). Dover Publications, NY.Google Scholar

Further Reading

  1. Alberty R. A., and Silbey R. J. (1997) Physical Chemistry, 2d ed. John Wiley and Sons, New York.Google Scholar
  2. Atkins P. W. (1995) Physical Chemistry, 5th ed. W. H. Freeman, New York.Google Scholar
  3. Castellan G. W. (1983) Physical Chemistry, 3rd ed. Addison-Wesley, Reading, MA.Google Scholar
  4. Moore W. J. (1978) Physical Chemistry, 4th ed. Prentice-Hall, Englewood Cliffs, NJ.Google Scholar
  5. Bluestone S., and Yan K. Y. (1995) A method to find the rate constants in chemical kinetics of a complex reaction. J. Chem. Ed., 72: 884–6.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Kuppermann A. and Greene E. F. (1968) Chemical reaction cross-sections and rate constants, J. Chem. Ed., 45: 361–5. This article is an excellent introduction to the ideas of reaction cross-sections in chemical kinetics.Google Scholar
  7. Loudon G. M. (1991) Mechanistic interpretation of pH-rate profiles. J. Chem. Ed., 68:973–84. This article discusses the kinetics of acid-base reactions and their use in determining mechanisms. The examples given are biochemical reactions.Google Scholar
  8. Tagg S. L., LeMaster C. L., LeMaster C. B., and McQuarrie D. A. (1994) Study of the chaotic behavior of a damped and driven oscillator in an aymmetric double-well potential. J. Chem. Ed., 71: 363–74. Application of chaos modeling to a chemical system. A good place to start learning the vocabulary as it applies to chemical kinetics.Google Scholar
  9. Truhlar D. G., and Gordon M. S. (1990) From force fields to dynamics: Classical and quantal paths. Science, 249: 491–8.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  • Peter R. Bergethon
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of BiochemistryBoston University School of MedicineBostonUSA

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