Module 11: Phase Diagrams and Solids


In Module 11, you will apply what you’ve learned about intermolecular forces, enthalpy of phase changes, and the properties of gases, liquids, and solids to understand the information in plots called “phase diagrams”. You will see how phase diagrams relate to the heating curves you studied in the thermodynamics module, as well as how to distill useful physical information from these plots. The second part of Module 11 focuses on the solid state. You will learn about common arrangements of ions within ionic crystals and metal atoms within solid metals.

Learning Objectives for Phase Diagrams and Solids

  1. Draw qualitative phase diagrams; identify and interpret key features of these diagrams.
  2. Correlate heating curves to phase diagrams.
  3. Use phase diagrams to estimate conditions for phase transitions.
  4. Relate enthalpy of vaporization to boiling temperature and pressure.
  5. Distinguish between various structures (amorphous or crystalline), bonding motifs (metallic, covalent-network, ionic, or molecular) of solids, and the resulting physical properties (e.g. melting point, ductility).
  6. Identify what defines a unit cell; distinguish between the three common cubic unit cell types and their characteristics.
  7. Calculate unit cell stoichiometry, given a depiction of the unit cell.

Why is this content important?

Electronics continually become smaller, faster, and more powerful. These advancements are due in large part to the structure and properties of the materials that comprise these devices. Research groups study various solid materials, such as semiconductors, in order to improve the performance of electronic devices even more. Here is an article on a recently-discovered semiconductor material:


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