The University of Southampton

CHEM3039 Advanced Physical Chemistry for BSc and MChem Year 3 (single honours)

Module Overview

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

Chemistry at the Interface between Phases The principles and techniques of modern physical chemistry are applied to the study of the gas/solid and liquid/solid interface. The observation of macroscopic behaviour is linked to processes on the molecular scale at the interface. Examples considered include applications in energy storage, pollution control and fuel cells.

Learning Outcomes

Learning Outcomes

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Be fully conversant with major aspects of chemical terminology related to electrode kinetics, heterogenous catalysis and surface science, and reactions at interfaces
  • Demonstrate a systematic understanding of fundamental physicochemical principles with the ability to apply that knowledge to the solution of theoretical problems related to chemistry at interfaces
  • Develop an awareness of issues within chemistry that overlap with other related subjects including environmental impact, sustainability and climate change, in the context electrochemical energy conversion and storage
  • Read and engage with scientific literature


The course deals with the nature of surfaces, both real and ideal, the energetics of adsorption at surfaces and adsorption isotherms, and the charge distribution at the liquid/solid interface. The kinetics of reactions at interfaces, including the role of mass transport and applied potential on the overall kinetics are discussed. The role of microscopic structure of the interface in determining the rates of heterogeneous catalysts is discussed along with spectroscopic and scanning probe techniques for the characterisation of gas/solid and liquid/solid interfaces on the molecular scale. Examples of applications to fuel cells, energy storage and conversion and heterogeneous catalysis are discussed in detail.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Lectures, workshops

Wider reading or practice51
Preparation for scheduled sessions30
Follow-up work25
Practical classes and workshops10
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

Southampton Electrochemistry Group. Instrumental Methods in Electrochemistry. 

A. C. Fisher. Electrode Dynamics. 

D. Pletcher. A First Course in Electrode Processes. 

C. M. A. Brett and A. M. Oliveira Brett. Electrochemistry. Principles and Applications. 

J. O’M. Bockris and A. K. N. Reddy. Modern Electrochemistry. 

Attard and Barnes. Surfaces. 

P. H. Rieger. Electrochemistry. 



MethodPercentage contribution
Examination  (2 hours) 100%


MethodPercentage contribution
Examination  (2 hours) 100%
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