Skip to main content
Chemistry LibreTexts

8: Chemical Kinetics

  • Page ID
  • Chemical kinetics is the study of the speed with which a chemical reaction occurs and the factors that affect this speed. This information is especially useful for determining how a reaction occurs.

    • 8.1: Reaction Rates
      In this Module, the quantitative determination of a reaction rate is demonstrated. Reaction rates can be determined over particular time intervals or at a given point in time. A rate law describes the relationship between reactant rates and reactant concentrations. Reaction rates are usually expressed as the concentration of reactant consumed or the concentration of product formed per unit time.
    • 8.2: Reaction Order
      From experimental observations, scientists have established that reaction rates almost always have a power-law dependence on the concentrations of one or more of the reactants. In the following sections, we will discuss different power laws that are commonly observed in chemical reactions.
    • 8.3: Molecularity of a Reaction
      If the reactions are elementary reactions, (i.e. they cannot be expressed as a series of simpler reactions), then we can directly define the rate law based on the chemical equation.
    • 8.4: More Complex Reactions
      A major goal in chemical kinetics is to determine the sequence of elementary reactions, or the reaction mechanism, that comprise complex reactions. In the following sections, we will derive rate laws for complex reaction mechanisms, including reversible, parallel and consecutive reactions.
    • 8.5: The Effect of Temperature on Reaction Rates
      When molecules collide, the kinetic energy of the molecules can be used to stretch, bend, and ultimately break bonds, leading to chemical reactions. If molecules move too slowly with little kinetic energy, or collide with improper orientation, they do not react and simply bounce off each other. However, if the molecules are moving fast enough with a proper collision orientation, such that the kinetic energy upon collision is greater than the minimum energy barrier, then a reaction occurs.
    • 8.6: Potential Energy Surfaces
      A potential energy surface (PES) describes the potential energy of a system, especially a collection of atoms, in terms of certain parameters, normally the positions of the atoms. The surface might define the energy as a function of one or more coordinates; if there is only one coordinate, the surface is called a potential energy curve or energy profile.
    • 8.7: Theories of Reaction Rates
      The macroscopic discussion of kinetics discussed in previous sections can be now expanded into a more microscopic picture in terms of molecular level properties (e..g, mass and velocities) involving two important theories: (1) collision theory and (2) transition-state theory.
    • 8.8: Isotope Effects in Chemical Reactions
      The kinetic isotope effect (KIE) is a phenomenon associated with isotopically substituted molecules exhibiting different reaction rates. Isotope effects such as KIEs are invaluable tools in both physical and biological sciences and are used to aid in the understanding of reaction kinetics, mechanisms, and solvent effects.
    • 8.9: Reactions in Solution
      Most of the complications of kinetics and rate processes in liquid solutions arise from the much higher density of the liquid phase.  In a typical liquid solution, the solvent molecules massively outnumber the reactant solute molecules, which tend to find themselves momentarily (~10–11 sec) confined to a "hole" within the liquid.
    • 8.10: Fast Reactions in Solution
      The traditional experimental methods described above all assume the possibility of following the reaction after its components have combined into a homogeneous mixture of known concentrations. But what can be done if the time required to complete the mixing process is comparable to or greater than the time needed for the reaction to run to completion?
    • 8.11: Oscillating Reactions
      hus far, we have only looked at reaction systems that give rise to purely linear differential equations, however, in many instances the rate equations are nonlinear. When the differential equations are nonlinear, the behavior is considerably more complex. In particular, nonlinear equations can lead to oscillatory solutions and can also exhibit chaos. Chaotic systems are systems that are highly sensitive to small changes in the parameters of the equations or initial conditions
    • 8.E: Chemical Kinetics (Exercises)
      This are exercises that to accompany the TextMap organized around Raymond Chang's Physical Chemistry for the Biosciences textbook.