ME 24-721: Advanced Thermodynamics

Thermodynamics explains phenomena we observe in the natural world and is the cornerstone of all of engineering. You're going to learn about thermodynamics from a molecular picture where we'll combine theory with a wide range of practical applications and examples. The principles you'll learn in this class will help you understand energy systems such as batteries, semiconductors, catalysts from a molecular perspective.

Biographical Sketch

Venkat Viswanathan is an Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University. He graduated from Stanford University working under the guidance of Jens Nørskov and his graduate work involved understanding and identifying the fundamental limitations of lithium-air batteries and trends in electrocatalysis of oxygen reduction. His awards include Electrochemical Society Daniel Cubicciotti Award in 2010; Electrochemical Society Herbert H. Uhligh Summer Fellow in 2009.

Course Significance

Modern engineering research focuses on designing new materials and processes at the molecular level. Statistical thermodynamics provides the formalism for understanding how molecular interactions lead to the observed collective behavior at the macroscale. We will develop a molecular-level understaning of key thermodynamic quantities like heat, work, free energy and entropy. These concepts will be applied in understanding several important engineering applications.

Course Syllabus

The class will consist of modules developing the theoretical aspects of statistical thermodynamics and application modules applying the theory to systems of practical interest.

  • Theory: Classical and Quantum Mechanics
  • Theory: Classical Thermodynamics
  • Theory: Introduction to Statistical Thermodynamics
  • Theory: Modeling non-interacting systems
  • Theory: Modeling interacting systems
  • Applications: Water
  • Applications: Polymers
  • Applications: Photosynthesis
  • Applications: Liquids
  • Applications: Adsorption
  • Applications: Electrolytes
  • Applications: Oxides and defects
  • Applications: Electron and thermal transport
  • Applications: Thermoelectrics