26 Jul 2010

Teaching General Chemistry: A Materials Science Companion


Submitted by Maggie Geselbracht, Reed College
Course Level: 

This book was originally written (full disclosure: I am one of the co-authors) for college teachers as a resource text to encourage and support the incorporation of more solid state and materials chemistry into the general chemistry curriculum.  The Companion, as I refer to it, is filled with background material, demonstrations, laboratory experiments, and end-of-chapter problems that will aid the non-specialist in enriching their teaching with examples from the world of solid state materials.  Although intended for a general chemistry audience, several of the chapters present fairly sophisticated treatments and are equally or sometimes more appropriate for a second year inorganic course in which students have already had prior experience in related areas of chemistry.  This book goes into far greater detail and offers far more examples than any "Solids" chapter in an inorganic textbook.  For this reason, I use it extensively as a supplemental text when I cover structure and bonding in my sophomore level inorganic course.  In some cases, similar information can be found in other sources, for example, articles in the Journal of Chemical Education (many references provided in the Companion), but in other cases, the Companion is the best single source that I have found.  We have 3-4 copies of the book that I put on reserve in the library for students to use throughout the semester.

I draw from many different parts of this text to highlight my lectures, but the two chapters that I cannot live without are Chapters 7 (Electronic Structure of Crystalline Solids: Bands and Periodic Properties) and 8 (Chemical Equilibrium: Acid-Base and Redox Analogies in Solids) to teach band theory of metals, semiconductors, and insultators and the effects of doping in semiconductors to create devices like LEDs and solar cells.  This builds an excellent foundation for teaching band theory at a more sophisticated level later on using the text by Hoffmann (see the link under Related activities below).  

If you use this text in your teaching, what are your favorite sections?


Teaching General Chemistry: A Materials Science Companion
Arthur B. Ellis, Margret J. Geselbracht, Brian J. Johnson, George C. Lisensky and William R. Robinson

ISBN13: 9780841227255

Paperback, 575 pages

Creative Commons License: 
Creative Commons Licence


I have used this text off and on over the past 4-5 years (at the suggestion of Maggie) and agree that it is a great introduction to someone not in the field.  I used chapter 7 extensively in 2010 to prepare lectures, but don't have extras to put on reserve.  I have seen that material in other places (possibly Huheey?) but not in as great a depth, and since the audience of this text is lower division students, its presented at a lower level that is quite understandable.


My favorites are also Chapters 7 and 8. In my materials-themed general chemistry course, I have a unit named "electron-hole chemistry," which directly follows after "acid-base chemistry."

I've used this text to supplement some parts of general chemistry and have even used some of the questions in my graduate-level materials class on some of their problem sets!  I have used experiment 4 as more of a demonstration in my non-laboratory class, too.

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