Course Meeting Times

Lectures: 3 sessions / week, 1 hour / session

Recitations: 2 sessions / week, 1 hour / session


Buy at Amazon Atkins, Peter, and Loretta Jones. Chemical Principles: The Quest for Insight. 4th ed. New York, NY: W.H. Freeman and Company, 2007. ISBN: 9781429209656.

Buy at Amazon Krenos, John. Chemical Principles: The Quest for Insight/Student Study Guide and Solutions Manual. 4th ed. New York, NY: W.H. Freeman and Company, 2007. ISBN: 9781429200998. (Buy at Amazon Bundled set. ISBN: 9781429212595.)

Lecture Notes

Lecture notes (with blanks) are provided for each lecture. Students are expected to follow along during the lecture in order to fill in the blanks in the notes.


Grades will be based on a total of 750 points.

Three one-hour exams (3 x 100 points) 300
Three-hour final exam 300
Problem sets 100
Attendance and in-class "quizzes" 50


There will be 10 problem sets assigned during the semester. Assignments will be graded, and will be worth a total of 100 points of your final grade. The problem sets are not included in these course materials.


There will be three hour-long exams during the semester and a three-hour-long final exam. All exams are closed-book and closed-notes. Most required equations and a periodic table will be provided.

Biology Topics

In an effort to illuminate connections between chemistry and biology and spark students' excitement for chemistry, we incorporate frequent biology-related examples into the lectures. These in-class examples range from two to ten minutes, designed to succinctly introduce biological connections without sacrificing any chemistry content in the curriculum.

A list of the biology-, medicine-, and MIT research-related examples used in 5.111 is provided in  Biology-Related Examples.

Significant Figures

Rules for scientific notation and significant figures are available in the back of the textbook in Appendix 1, pages A5-A6. You are also responsible for knowing the following SI prefixes: n (nano, 10-9), µ (micro, 10-6), m (milli, 10-3), c (centi, 10-2), and k (kilo, 103)

Clicker Questions

We will use classroom response devices during lectures to take attendance, enable feedback, and facilitate occasional in-class quizzes. We have outlined the following points to help clarify the class policies regarding clicker use.

Why are we using clickers?

  1. Clickers give us additional feedback on whether the class as a whole understands a given concept or when our explanations need to be expanded or clarified. This enables us to gauge the understanding of the entire class and adjust our lessons accordingly.
  2. Clickers also provide you as a student feedback on how well you understand the material and how fast you are able to solve problems. For example, if you are able to solve the homework problems but run out of time on in-class slicker questions, it is a good indication that you will be pinched for time on the exam and may need to work through more practice problems to increase your speed.
  3. We feel it is appropriate to reward the many students that consistently come to class and participate. In addition, because we take attendance we feel more comfortable posting lecture notes online.

Answering in-class clicker questions

  1. Apart from announced in-class quiz questions, you will not be graded on whether you answer clicker questions correctly.
  2. For routine clicker questions, you are encouraged to attempt the question on your own, but you are certainly allowed to quietly discuss the problem with your neighbor. For announced quiz questions, any talking or sharing answers in considered cheating.


The calendar below provides information on the course's lecture (L) and exam (E) sessions.

L1 The importance of chemical principles  
L2 Discovery of electron and nucleus, need for quantum mechanics  
L3 Wave-particle duality of light  
L4 Wave-particle duality of matter, Schrödinger equation  
L5 Hydrogen atom energy levels Problem set 1 due
L6 Hydrogen atom wavefunctions (orbitals)  
L7 p-orbitals  
L8 Multielectron atoms and electron configurations Problem set 2 due
L9 Periodic trends  
L10 Periodic trends continued; Covalent bonds Problem set 3 due
L11 Lewis structures  
E1 Exam 1 covering lectures 1-9  
L12 Exceptions to Lewis structure rules; Ionic bonds  
L13 Polar covalent bonds; VSEPR theory  
L14 Molecular orbital theory  
L15 Valence bond theory and hybridization Problem set 4 due
L16 Determining hybridization in complex molecules; Thermochemistry and bond energies/bond enthalpies  
L17 Entropy and disorder Problem set 5 due
L18 Free energy and control of spontaneity  
E2 Exam 2 covering lectures 10-16  
L19 Chemical equilibrium  
L20 Le Chatelier's principle and applications to blood-oxygen levels  
L21 Acid-base equilibrium: Is MIT water safe to drink?  
L22 Chemical and biological buffers Problem set 6 due
L23 Acid-base titrations  
L24 Balancing oxidation/reduction equations  
L25 Electrochemical cells Problem set 7 due
L26 Chemical and biological oxidation/reduction reactions  
L27 Transition metals and the treatment of lead poisoning Problem set 8 due
L28 Crystal field theory  
E3 Exam 3 covering lectures 17-26  
L29 Metals in biology  
L30 Magnetism and spectrochemical theory  
L31 Rate laws Problem set 9 due
L32 Nuclear chemistry and elementary reactions  
L33 Reaction mechanism  
L34 Temperature and kinetics Problem set 10 due
L35 Enzyme catalysis  
L36 Biochemistry  
E4 Final exam covering lecture 1-36