Physical Chemistry with Biological Applications

Yale Chemistry 328 Course Description: Principles of statistical mechanics and thermodynamics, and their application to biomolecules. Emphasis is placed on model development, numerical computation, and contemporary experiments and theories in biophysical chemistry.

What you will learn:

  • A molecular-level intuition about the behavior of DNA, proteins, small molecules, and their assemblies
  • Why thermodynamics has a history of being “hard”
  • How to derive the postulates of equilibrium thermodynamics
  • How to describe macroscopic properties in terms of microscopic properties
  • How to describe finite systems where thermodynamics fails
  • How to think about a system at varying levels of sophistication – choosing the appropriate model
  • Which experiments (historical and current) are done to build microscopic intuition
  • What entropy is and how it can be used to predict phenomena
  • Why there are so many quantities labeled “energy” and what they are good for
  • What special properties water provides as a solvent and what the hydrophobic effect is
  • The governing principles for nanoscopic machines
  • How to use MATLAB to calculate and visualize physical data

Course Structure: The class is divided into three units. Each unit is motivated by an underlying question (Unit 1: How does pulling DNA relate to melting it?, Unit 2: How do unstructured proteins find targets?, Unit 3: Not Molecular Machines - Why not?) that is used to describe thermodynamic and statistical mechanics problem solving approaches.

Videos developed for this course may be found on our YouTube Channel.