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We have spent much of the previous concept studies finding that chemical and physical processes come to equilibrium. We have observed this in phase equilibrium of pure substances, solution equilibrium, solubility equilibrium, chemical reactions in the gas phase, and acid-base equilibrium. In each case, we have been able to understand equilibrium as a dynamic process. At equilibrium, there are competing processes, forward and reverse, which come to equilibrium when the rates of the competing processes are equal. For example, when liquid and vapor are at equilibrium at the vapor pressure of the liquid, the rate of evaporation of the liquid is equal to the rate of condensation of the vapor.

However, our dynamic equilibrium model does not tell us the conditions at equilibrium. For each liquid, we know that there is one pressure for each temperature at which the liquid can be in equilibrium with its vapor. But we cannot predict or calculate what that pressure is for each temperature for each liquid. We can only make qualitative predictions. Thermodynamics will give us the means to make these predictions and will give us a new physical insight into the nature of equilibrium.

We will begin by developing a means to predict what processes will happen “spontaneously.” This is a term chemists use to refer to processes that are not at equilibrium. It is easiest to explain with an example. We know that, if the pressure of water vapor is 1 atm at 25 ºC, the water vapor will spontaneously condense. On the other hand, we have also seen that, if the pressure of water vapor is below 23 torr at 25 ºC, the liquid water will spontaneously evaporate. These are both examples of spontaneous processes. Note that these are opposite processes. This means that the spontaneity of a process depends on the conditions, in this case, the pressure and the temperature. Any process not at equilibrium is a process occurring spontaneously. One way to understand equilibrium, then, is to understand spontaneity. We will see that the Second Law of Thermodynamics provides us the ability to predict spontaneous processes.


We have come a long way to reach this point, so we have a substantial foundation to build on. We know all the elements of the Atomic Molecular Theory, including the models for molecular structure and bonding. We have developed the postulates of the Kinetic Molecular Theory. We have observed and defined phase transitions and phase equilibrium. We have also observed equilibrium in a variety of reaction systems, including acids and bases. We will assume an understanding of the energetics of chemical reactions, including the idea of a “state function” and the concept of Hess’ Law.

Observation 1: spontaneous mixing

We begin by examining common characteristics of spontaneous processes, and for simplicity, we focus on processes not involving phase transitions or chemical reactions. A very clear example of such a process is mixing. Imagine adding a drop of blue ink into a glass of water. At first, the blue dye in the ink is highly concentrated. Therefore, the molecules of the dye are closely congregated. Slowly but steadily, the dye begins to diffuse throughout the entire glass of water, so that eventually the water appears as a uniform blue color. This occurs more readily with agitation or stirring but occurs spontaneously even without such effort. Careful measurements show that this process occurs without a change in temperature, so there is no energy input or released during the mixing.

Questions & Answers

what is variations in raman spectra for nanomaterials
Jyoti Reply
I only see partial conversation and what's the question here!
Crow Reply
what about nanotechnology for water purification
RAW Reply
please someone correct me if I'm wrong but I think one can use nanoparticles, specially silver nanoparticles for water treatment.
yes that's correct
I think
what is the stm
Brian Reply
is there industrial application of fullrenes. What is the method to prepare fullrene on large scale.?
industrial application...? mmm I think on the medical side as drug carrier, but you should go deeper on your research, I may be wrong
How we are making nano material?
what is a peer
What is meant by 'nano scale'?
What is STMs full form?
scanning tunneling microscope
how nano science is used for hydrophobicity
Do u think that Graphene and Fullrene fiber can be used to make Air Plane body structure the lightest and strongest. Rafiq
what is differents between GO and RGO?
what is simplest way to understand the applications of nano robots used to detect the cancer affected cell of human body.? How this robot is carried to required site of body cell.? what will be the carrier material and how can be detected that correct delivery of drug is done Rafiq
what is Nano technology ?
Bob Reply
write examples of Nano molecule?
The nanotechnology is as new science, to scale nanometric
nanotechnology is the study, desing, synthesis, manipulation and application of materials and functional systems through control of matter at nanoscale
Is there any normative that regulates the use of silver nanoparticles?
Damian Reply
what king of growth are you checking .?
What fields keep nano created devices from performing or assimulating ? Magnetic fields ? Are do they assimilate ?
Stoney Reply
why we need to study biomolecules, molecular biology in nanotechnology?
Adin Reply
yes I'm doing my masters in nanotechnology, we are being studying all these domains as well..
what school?
biomolecules are e building blocks of every organics and inorganic materials.
anyone know any internet site where one can find nanotechnology papers?
Damian Reply
sciencedirect big data base
Introduction about quantum dots in nanotechnology
Praveena Reply
what does nano mean?
Anassong Reply
nano basically means 10^(-9). nanometer is a unit to measure length.
do you think it's worthwhile in the long term to study the effects and possibilities of nanotechnology on viral treatment?
Damian Reply
absolutely yes
how did you get the value of 2000N.What calculations are needed to arrive at it
Smarajit Reply
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Source:  OpenStax, Concept development studies in chemistry 2013. OpenStax CNX. Oct 07, 2013 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11579/1.1
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