Chemistry

Chemistry provides the connection between molecular concepts and the complex systems found in nature. Chemistry courses stress the understanding of chemical principles, as well as the experimental basis of the science. The curriculum provides a strong foundation for graduate work in chemistry, biochemistry, and other chemistry-related areas, for positions in industry, for high school teaching, and for studies in the medical and health sciences. The department is on the list of those approved by the American Chemical Society (ACS). Detailed course requirements for an ACS-certified major can be found on the Chemistry Department Website.

Prospective chemistry majors should begin their study of mathematics, physics and chemistry in the first year. Majors are encouraged to participate in summer or fall term scientific research programs off campus or in the Chemistry Department Summer Research Program at Carleton.

The Introductory Courses

Most first-year students will take Chemistry 123, Principles of Chemistry or Chemistry 128, Principles of Environmental Chemistry. Both are one-term courses designed for students who have had a good high school chemistry preparation. Although taught from slightly different perspectives, all sections of Chemistry 123 or Chemistry 128 will cover the fundamental topics that prepare students for further work in chemistry, biology, geology, or medicine. Note that Chemistry 128 is not offered every year.  In the winter term we also offer a section of Chemistry 123 with problem solving. This smaller section will have additional class meetings for problem solving and review and is appropriate for students who have had a high school chemistry course but want more interaction with the instructor as they begin the study of college-level chemistry.

Students who have not had a high school chemistry course should take Chemistry 122, An Introduction to Chemistry, which is designed to prepare students with little or no prior work in chemistry for further study in the discipline. This course also includes class sessions with problem solving and review.

Students who had chemistry in high school but do not have placement (AP or IB) and are planning to take Chemistry 123 or 128 must take the self-administered chemistry placement evaluation. This evaluation covers topics dealing with simple formulas, equations, stoichiometry, gas laws, and the properties of solutions. It also includes a list of topics for you to review before you take the placement exam.

Requirements for the Chemistry Major

67 credits are required for the major.

Each of the following core courses (33 credits):

  • CHEM 123 Principles of Chemistry I and Lab
  • CHEM 123 Principles of Chemistry I With Problem Solving and Lab
  • CHEM 128 Principles of Environmental Chemistry and Lab (not offered in 2023-24)
  • CHEM 224 Principles of Chemistry II and Lab
  • CHEM 233 Organic Chemistry I and Lab
  • CHEM 234 Organic Chemistry II and Lab
  • CHEM 301 Chemical Kinetics Laboratory
  • CHEM 343 Chemical Thermodynamics

One of the following quantitative courses (6 credits):

One of the following electives (6 credits):

  • BIOC 301 Survey of Biochemistry
  • CHEM 348 Introduction to Computational Chemistry (not offered in 2023-24)
  • CHEM 351 Inorganic Chemistry
  • CHEM 353 Organic Chemistry III
  • CHEM 354 Spectroscopic Applications in Chemistry
  • CHEM 358 Organometallic Chemistry (not offered in 2023-24)
  • CHEM 360 Chemical Biology (not offered in 2023-24)
  • CHEM 361 Materials Chemistry
  • CHEM 362 Chemistry at the Nanoscale (not offered in 2023-24)
  • CHEM 363 Materials Chemistry for a Sustainable Energy Economy (not offered in 2023-24)

Two of the following elective lab courses (4 credits):

  • BIOC 311 Biochemistry Laboratory
  • CHEM 302 Quantum Spectroscopy Laboratory
  • CHEM 306 Spectrometric Characterization of Chemical Compounds
  • CHEM 331 Instrumental Chemical Analysis Laboratory
  • CHEM 338 Computer-Assisted Experimentation for Chemists (not offered in 2023-24)
  • CHEM 349 Computational Chemistry Laboratory (not offered in 2023-24)
  • CHEM 352 Laboratory in Advanced Inorganic Chemistry

Additional requirements:

  • Physics: two three-credit courses or one six-credit course from courses 131-165 (6 credits)
  • Mathematics: 120 or 211 (6 credits)
  • One additional 200-level physics course is strongly recommended (Physics 228 or 235)

Chemistry 400 is required of all majors (6 credits). In addition to six credits of comps (see CHEM 400 description), Chemistry majors will be required to attend at least 10 seminars between the term in which they declare and the end of winter term of their senior year to ensure breadth in the exposure to the ways chemists approach their work.

Major under Combined Plan in Engineering

In addition to completing the requirements for the Chemistry major listed above, the student should also take the following courses required for admission to the engineering schools: Physics 165 or 228, Mathematics 241, and Computer Science 111. At the discretion of the department, one advanced course may be waived in some instances to allow the student more latitude in selection of courses.

Chemistry Courses

CHEM 122 An Introduction to Chemistry An introduction to the fundamentals of chemistry to prepare students to enter subsequent chemistry courses (Chemistry 123 or 128). Atoms and molecules, stoichiometry, and gases will be covered in the course. Although learning through discovery-based processes, small groups, and short laboratory experimentation will occur, this is not a lab course and does not fulfill the requirements for medical school. This course assumes competence with simple algebra, but no prior chemistry experience. Prerequisite: Students with high school chemistry should probably take Chemistry 123 or 128. (Determined by the self-administered Chemistry Placement Evaluation, Chemistry Home Page). 6 credits; QRE, NE; Fall; Tamra Lahom
CHEM 123 Principles of Chemistry I and Lab An introduction to chemistry for students who have strong high school preparation in chemistry or who have taken Chemistry 122. Topics include the electronic structure of atoms, periodicity, molecular geometry, thermodynamics, bonding, equilibrium, reaction kinetics, and acids and bases. Each offering will also focus on a special topic(s) selected by the instructor. Students cannot receive credit for both Chemistry 123 and 128. Prerequisite: Chemistry 122 or placement via Chemistry Placement Exam (see Chemistry Department webpage). 6 credits; LS, QRE; Fall, Winter, Spring; Isaac Blythe, Rachel E Horness
CHEM 123 Principles of Chemistry I With Problem Solving and Lab An introduction to chemistry for students who have strong high school preparation in chemistry or who have taken Chemistry 122. Topics include the electronic structure of atoms, periodicity, molecular geometry, thermodynamics, bonding, equilibrium, reaction kinetics, and acids and bases. Each offering will also focus on a special topic(s) selected by the instructor. Students cannot receive credit for both Chemistry 123 and 128. This section of Chemistry with problem solving is periodically offered for students who wish to further develop their general analytical and critical thinking skills. This smaller section will have additional class meetings for problem solving and review. Chemistry 123 With Problem Solving is appropriate for students who would like to have more scheduled time to work with a faculty member on developing their scientific reasoning skills and understanding of the foundations of chemistry. Prerequisite: Chemistry 122 or placement via Chemistry Placement Exam (see Chemistry Department webpage). 6 credits; LS, QRE; Winter; Daniela L Kohen
CHEM 128 Principles of Environmental Chemistry and Lab The core topics of chemistry (i.e., thermodynamics, kinetics, equilibrium, and bonding) are central to understanding major environmental topics such as greenhouse warming, ozone depletion, acid-rain deposition, and general chemical contamination in air, water, and soil. These topics and the chemical principles behind them are addressed through an emphasis on the earth's atmosphere. One four-hour laboratory per week. Because this course covers the major topics of Chemistry 123 (but with an environmental emphasis), students cannot receive credit for both Chemistry 123 and 128. Prerequisite: Chemistry 122 or placement via Chemistry Placement Exam (see Chemistry Department webpage). 6 credits; LS, QRE; Not offered 2023-24
CHEM 224 Principles of Chemistry II and Lab A more advanced study of several core introductory chemistry principles. This course is suitable for students with advanced placement in chemistry or students who have completed Chemistry 123 or 128. Topics include coordination chemistry, advanced bonding models, spectroscopy, advanced acid/base and redox equilibria, and electrochemistry. The topics will be taught from varying perspectives using examples from biochemistry, the environment, energy, or materials chemistry. The lab will focus on developing computational, quantitative, and synthetic skills and will prepare students for more advanced laboratory work in chemistry. Prerequisite: Chemistry 123 or Chemistry 128. 6 credits; LS, QRE; Fall, Winter, Spring; Rachel E Horness, Joe Chihade, Steven M Drew
CHEM 233 Organic Chemistry I and Lab Theoretical aspects of carbon chemistry are examined with reference to structure-reactivity relationships, functional groups, stereochemistry, reaction mechanisms and spectroscopy. Laboratory work concentrates on modern techniques of organic chemistry, inquiry-based projects, and spectroscopic analysis. One laboratory per week. Prerequisite: Chemistry 123 or 128. 6 credits; LS, QRE; Fall, Winter; Matt T Whited, Gretchen E Hofmeister
CHEM 234 Organic Chemistry II and Lab The chemistry of functional groups is continued from Chemistry 233, and is extended to the multifunctional compounds found in nature, in particular carbohydrates and proteins. The laboratory focuses upon inquiry-based projects and spectroscopic analysis. One laboratory per week. Prerequisite: Chemistry 233. 6 credits; LS, QRE; Winter, Spring; Kazimer L Skubi, Maraia E Ener
CHEM 289 Climate & Health: From Science to Practice in Ethiopia This course is the second part of a two-term course sequence beginning with ENTS 289. This course will start with a multi-week trip to Ethiopia. While there, we will carry out a research program to assess the impact of cooking technologies on air quality in peoples’ homes, investigate the connections between regional and national environmental impacts and individual choices, and meet with national and international organizations working on these issues. We will work in both urban Addis Ababa and a rural area, Wolkite, to explore both types of settings. Back on campus during winter term, we will reflect on our experiences, analyze data, prepare and make public presentations, and propose appropriate follow-up projects. Prerequisite: Enrollment in ENTS 289 the term before. 6 credits; NE, QRE; Not offered 2023-24
CHEM 301 Chemical Kinetics Laboratory A mixed class/lab course with one four-hour laboratory per week and weekly discussion/problem sessions. In class, the principles of kinetics will be developed with a mechanistic focus. In lab, experimental design and extensive independent project work will be emphasized. Prerequisite: Chemistry 224 and 233 and Mathematics 120 or 121. 3 credits; QRE, NE, WR2; Fall; Daniela L Kohen, Tamra Lahom
CHEM 302 Quantum Spectroscopy Laboratory This lab course emphasizes spectroscopic studies relevant to quantum chemistry, including experiments utilizing UV-VIS, infrared absorption spectroscopy, and visible emission spectroscopy. Prerequisite: Concurrent registration in Chemistry 344. 2 credits; QRE, NE; Winter; Trish A Ferrett
CHEM 306 Spectrometric Characterization of Chemical Compounds This combined lecture and lab course teaches students how to use modern spectrometric techniques for the structural characterization of molecules. Lectures will cover topics and problems in the theory and practical applications associated with GC-Mass Spectrometry, ESI-Mass Spectrometry, Infrared, and Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy (1H, 13C, and 2D experiments). Students will apply all of these techniques in the laboratory for the structural characterization of known and unknown molecules. Prerequisite: Chemistry 234 or instructor permission. 2 credits; QRE, NE; Spring; Gretchen E Hofmeister
CHEM 330 Instrumental Chemical Analysis This course covers the basic principles of quantitative instrumental chemical analysis. Course topics include chromatography, electroanalytical chemistry, analytical spectroscopy, and mass spectrometry. The background needed to understand the theory and application of these instrumental techniques will be covered. In addition, students will have the opportunity to explore current research in the field of analytical chemistry through the reading and presentation of articles from the primary literature. Prerequisite: Chemistry 224 and Chemistry 233; Concurrent registration in Chemistry 331. 6 credits; NE, QRE; Winter; Steven M Drew
CHEM 331 Instrumental Chemical Analysis Laboratory This laboratory provides students with experience in using instrumental methods for quantitative chemical analysis. Laboratory work consists of several assigned experiments that use instrumental techniques such as liquid and gas chromatography, UV spectrophotometry and fluorometry, mass spectrometry, and voltammetry. This laboratory concludes with an instrumental analysis project that is researched and designed by student groups. Prerequisite: Concurrent registration in Chemistry 330; Chemistry 224 and 233. 2 credits; NE, QRE; Winter; Steven M Drew
CHEM 338 Computer-Assisted Experimentation for Chemists This laboratory introduces students to the general components that make up an instrument used for chemical analysis. These components include transducers, analog and digital electronic components, data transmission hardware, computers, and appropriate software. The specific topics to be covered are ion selective electrodes, fluorometry, analog electronics, basic data acquisition principles, serial data communication, Arduino and LabVIEW programming. Prerequisite: Chemistry 224. 2 credits; LS; Not offered 2023-24
CHEM 343 Chemical Thermodynamics The major topic is chemical thermodynamics, including the First and Second Laws, the conditions for spontaneous change, thermochemistry, and chemical equilibrium. To showcase how chemists utilize energy concepts to solve problems, thermodynamics will be regularly applied to a number of real-world examples and scientific problems. Prerequisite: Chemistry 123 or 128, Mathematics 120 or 211 and six credits from Physics courses number 131 to 165. 6 credits; NE, QRE; Fall; Trish A Ferrett
CHEM 344 Quantum Chemistry This course introduces quantum mechanics with an emphasis on chemical and spectroscopic applications. The focus will be on atomic and molecular quantum behavior involving electrons, rotations, and vibrations. The objective is to develop both a deeper understanding of bonding as well as an appreciation of how spectroscopy provides insight into the microscopic world of molecules. Prerequisite: Chemistry 123 or 128, Mathematics 120 or 211 and six credits from Physics 131 to 165. 6 credits; NE, QRE; Winter; Will Hollingsworth
CHEM 348 Introduction to Computational Chemistry This class will introduce students to computational chemistry with a focus on simulations in chemistry and biology. This course will include hands-on experience in running classical molecular dynamics and quantum chemistry programs, an introduction to methods to simulate large systems, and demonstrations of the use of more sophisticated software to simulate chemical and biological processes. It will also include a survey of the current literature in this area, as well as lecture time in which the background necessary to appreciate this growing area of chemistry will be provided. Prerequisite: Chemistry 343 and 344 or consent of the instructor; Concurrent registration in Chemistry 349. 6 credits; NE, QRE; Not offered 2023-24
CHEM 349 Computational Chemistry Laboratory Credit for the laboratory portion of Chemistry 348. Prerequisite: Concurrent registration in Chemistry 348. 2 credits; NE, QRE; Not offered 2023-24
CHEM 351 Inorganic Chemistry Symmetry, molecular orbital theory and ligand field theory will provide a framework to explore the bonding, magnetism and spectroscopic properties of coordination complexes. Topics in reactivity (hard and soft acids and bases), bioinorganic chemistry, reaction mechanisms, and organometallic chemistry, will also be introduced. Prerequisite: Chemistry 224 and 234. 6 credits; NE, QRE; Spring; Isaac Blythe
CHEM 352 Laboratory in Advanced Inorganic Chemistry Synthesis, purification and spectroscopic characterization of transition-metal complexes with an emphasis on methods for preparing and handling air-sensitive compounds. One laboratory per week. Prerequisite: Concurrent or previous registration in Chemistry 351. 2 credits; QRE, NE; Spring; Isaac Blythe
CHEM 353 Organic Chemistry III This course explores the relationship between structure and reactivity in organic molecular systems, with an emphasis on reaction mechanisms. Topics include molecular orbital theory, stereoelectronic effects, linear free energy relationships, and kinetic isotope effects. We will use these theories to revisit and deepen our understanding of reactions from Chemistry 233 (Organic Chemistry & Lab) and 234 (Organic Chemistry II & Lab). We will then analyze additional classes of reactions, such as pericyclic, enantioselective, and organometallic transformations. Students will use the primary literature to further investigate these topics. Prerequisite: Chemistry 234; Either previous or concurrent registration in Chemistry 301, 343 or 344. 6 credits; NE, QRE; Fall; Kazimer L Skubi
CHEM 354 Spectroscopic Applications in Chemistry The full power of spectroscopy extends well beyond the absorption or emission of a single photon. Details of energy flow through electronic, vibrational, and rotational excited states of molecules can be queried using the specific colors and timescales of one or more pulsed lasers. In addition to developing a working knowledge of lasers and forms of spectroscopy, this discussion-based class also has students presenting on evidence from literature in areas such as chemical reactivity, the atmosphere, and biology. Prerequisite: 6 credits of physics drawn from courses 131 to 165 and one 6-credit 300-level chemistry class. 6 credits; NE, QRE; Spring; Will Hollingsworth
CHEM 358 Organometallic Chemistry This course covers the bonding and reactivity of organometallic complexes in the context of their applications to industrial catalysis, the synthesis of complex organic molecules, and energy science. We will use simple yet powerful tools such as the eighteen-electron rule and isoelectronic arguments to rationalize and predict observed reactivity, and current literature will be extensively utilized. Prerequisite: Chemistry 234. 6 credits; NE; Not offered 2023-24
CHEM 360 Chemical Biology Chemical biology is a burgeoning field at the intersection of chemistry and biology that involves the use of chemical tools and reactions to manipulate existing and even engineer completely new biological systems. This seminar course will focus on current literature to explore recent developments in this area, with topics including cell-surface engineering, chemical evolution, and synthetic biology. Prerequisite: Chemistry 234 and Biology 125 or 126. 6 credits; NE, QRE; Not offered 2023-24
CHEM 361 Materials Chemistry Materials chemistry seeks to understand condensed matter through the study of its structural, electronic, and macroscopic properties with an eye on practical applications. Therefore, the study of matter from a materials perspective requires a multidisciplinary approach involving chemistry, physics, engineering, and technology. Some topics to be covered include crystalline structure, X-ray diffraction, band theory, conductivity, magnetic and optical properties, the effect of size on materials properties, and soft materials. Current research in materials chemistry will be explored through group presentation and discussion of primary literature papers. Prerequisite: Chemistry 224 and Chemistry 234 or instructor permission. 6 credits; NE; Fall; Steven M Drew
CHEM 362 Chemistry at the Nanoscale This discussion-based seminar involves critical examination of research literature authored by prominent investigators in the interdisciplinary field of nanochemistry. Learning will draw upon the multiple disciplines of chemistry (physical, analytical, inorganic, and organic), physics, and biology. Includes a focus on the integrative themes of design, size, shape, surface, self-assembly, and defects. Novel and emerging applications in technology, biology, and medicine will be explored. Prerequisite: Chemistry 343 or 344 and one 300-level Chemistry course. Any of these courses can be taken concurrently. 6 credits; NE; Not offered 2023-24
CHEM 363 Materials Chemistry for a Sustainable Energy Economy Chemistry is playing a central role in the development of a renewable energy economy. This class will introduce greenhouse gases and atmospheric chemistry as they relate to climate change, followed by discussions of energy utilization, production, transport, and storage. Example chemistries will include electrochemical and solar-driven processes for producing renewable fuels, in particular hydrogen; gas storage using nanoporous materials such as Metal-Organic Frameworks and metal hydrides; carbon-neutral processes for producing critical commodities such as ammonia; and CO2 capture. The interactions between science and government policies will be considered as well. Prerequisite: Chemistry 224. 6 credits; NE; Not offered 2023-24
CHEM 371 Chemistry and Society - Impact and Legacy Science is a human endeavor. Societal context has thus shaped the questions chemists have asked, who benefits from or is harmed by the technological advancements chemists discover, and who has participated in or been excluded from the chemical enterprise. With the goal of encouraging open minded and self-critical thinking about the discipline and its practice, we will work collaboratively to explore a range of case studies, including the origin of chemical nomenclature, disparate environmental impacts, and the design of pharmaceutical clinical trials, in which chemistry intersects with, and sometimes reinforces, structural racism and other inequalities. Prerequisite: Chemistry 224 and 233. 3 credits; NE; Not offered 2023-24
CHEM 394 Student-Faculty Research Independent and group projects related to faculty research programs, supervised by faculty in all areas of chemistry and typically associated with summer or winter-break research projects. Activities include: original inquiry, laboratory and/or theoretical work, literature reading, formal writing related to research results, and preparing talks or posters for research conferences. Regular meetings with a faculty advisor and/or research group are expected. Students conducting research that is not directly tied to ongoing faculty research programs should enroll in Chemistry 391/392. Prerequisite: Instructor Permission. 1-6 credit; S/CR/NC; NE; Fall, Winter; Deborah S Gross, Joe Chihade, Daniela L Kohen, Matt T Whited
CHEM 395 Research Experience Seminar in Chemistry This seminar course is intended for students who have completed a summer research project or internship in the chemical sciences. The intent of the course is to provide students with the opportunity to discuss their research experience, learn from the experiences of other members of the class, read relevant primary literature, and prepare a poster for a student research symposium. 3 credits; NE, QRE; Not offered 2023-24
CHEM 400 Integrative Exercise Three alternatives exist for the department comprehensive exercise. Most students elect to join a discussion group that studies the research of a distinguished chemist or particular research problem in depth. Other students elect to write a long paper based on research in the primary literature, or write a paper expanding on their own research investigations. Most of the work for Chemistry 400 is expected to be accomplished during winter term. Students should enroll for five credits of Chemistry 400 during the winter, receive a "CI" at the end of that term, and then enroll for one credit during the spring, with the final evaluation and grade being awarded during spring term. Chemistry majors will be required to attend at least 10 seminars between the term in which they declare and the end of winter term of their senior year to ensure breadth in the exposure to the ways chemists approach their work. 1 credit; S/NC; Fall, Winter, Spring; Matt T Whited, Gretchen E Hofmeister, Joe Chihade, Daniela L Kohen, Kazimer L Skubi