18 Jan 2018

Inorganic Chemistry

Submitted by Adam R. Johnson, Harvey Mudd College
Specific Course Information
Course Area and Number: 
Chem 104
Harvey Mudd College
Claremont, CA, USA
Inorganic Chemistry, Pfennig
Course Meetings and Time
Number of meetings per week: 
3 meetings / week
Time per meeting (minutes): 
50 min / meeting
Number of weeks: 
15 weeks
Lab Associated: 
Yes, optional, concurrently
Average Class Size: 
15 to 25
Typical Student Population: 
This course consists of approximately 1/3 "joint majors in chemistry and biology" (our biochemistry major), and 2/3 chemistry majors of a variety of flavors (we have 5 or so different emphases all with different requirements). All students have had one semester of organic with laboratory (about 2/3 have had two semesters), one semester of physical chemistry (thermo/kinetics) and about 1/2 have had a second semester of physical chemistry (group theory, quantum mechanics, and spectroscopy). As such, student preparation is highly varied. The course is taught as an advanced (in-depth) course, although technically (according to ACS-CPT) it is a foundation level course.

What is inorganic chemistry? 

Inorganic chemistry interfaces and overlaps with the other areas of chemistry. Inorganic chemists  synthesize molecules of academic and commercial interest, measure properties such as magnetism and unpaired electron spin with sophisticated instruments, study metal ion uptake in living cells, and prepare new materials like photovoltaics. Inorganic chemistry is a diverse field, and we will only be able to touch on some of the chemistry of the more than 110 elements in the periodic table. The major subdisciplines of inorganic chemistry are coordination chemistry, organometallics, bioinorganic chemistry, and solid-state/materials chemistry. Inorganic chemists study the s-, p-, d- and f-block elements, reaction rates, determine reaction mechanism, and prepare new compounds. In this course, you will get a broad overview of some areas, and a more detailed study of others.

File attachments: 
Learning Goals: 

By the end of the course you will be able to...


- explain the history and breadth of inorganic chemistry using the inorganic Nobel Prizes

- use an appropriate theory to describe the structure and bonding of inorganic compounds

- construct qualitatively correct MO diagrams for centrosymmetric molecules

- explain bonding and magnetism in transition metal complexes using MO arguments

- draw mechanisms for common inorganic/organometallic reactions

- demonstrate how the structures of common crystalline and ionic solids are derived from simple lattices

- describe the composition of more complex solids

- explain the trends in the chemistry of the representative elements

- interpret spectroscopic methods (especially NMR and IR) for inorganic compounds


(Not all skills listed above are addressed every year.)

How the course is taught: 
2/3 lecture 1/3 in-class group/board work. 2-3 full class literature discussions per year
Grading Scheme: 
2x midterms, 30% 4x quizzes, 20% homework, 10% in-class participation, 20% final exam (ACS standard exam), 20%
Creative Commons License: 
Creative Commons Licence
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