Surface Chemistry and Heterogeneous Processes (CHEM:5438)

Surface Chemistry and Heterogeneous Processes (CHEM:5438)                           Spring 2017

Instructor: Prof. Alexei V. Tivanski

Office: E272 CB; Phone: 384-3692;

Office Hours in E272 CB: MW 1:30-3:00 PM or by appointment


Department of Chemistry Contact Information: Students in need of additional information may contact staff in the Chemistry Center (231 CB or phone: 335-1341) during normal business hours.

Lectures: TTh 11:00 AM -12:15 PM 114 BHC; attendance is expected

Course Materials: Course Website: CHEM:5438– Iowa Courses Online:

Required Textbook: Surface Science: Foundations of Catalysis and Nanoscience, 3rd Edition by Kurt W. Kolasinski

Suggested Textbook: Physical Chemistry 10th Ed. by P. A. Atkins and J. de Paula (previous versions and/or other Physical Chemistry textbooks are good alternative)


Objectives: This course is intended as an introduction to surface chemistry and an overview of methods for the characterization of surfaces. We will cover fundamental and applied aspects of surface chemical processes; theories of molecular adsorption/desorption and surface complexation; kinetics; surface analysis and instrumentation; applications of surface chemistry in heterogeneous catalysis, heterogeneous environmental/atmospheric processes, nanoscience and materials chemistry.


Exams: There will be two in-class exams of equal weight (125 points each), each covering approximately half of the material. The days of the exams will be announced in advance during lectures and posted on the ICON web site.  Note that the time limit for taking each in-class exam is 1 hour 15 minutes.  There will be NO final exam during examination week. Make-up exams will be given only for excused absences or documented medical reasons. Please contact Prof. Tivanski before the missed exam.


Homework: Two graded homework assignments (50 points each) will be given during the course of the semester. Homework are encouraged to be discussed and worked in collaboration, but all written work must be performed independently.  Note: homework assignments must be submitted in class, late assignments will not be accepted.


Literature Review Presentation: Each student will make one brief (75 points), approximately 15 minutes presentation (including time for questions) presentation to the class using slides to discuss a scientific paper related to the course material.  Each student will need to confirm their paper choice with the instructor.  Presentations will be scheduled towards the last third of the semester.


Final Project Report: The final project report will consist of a brief (five page) written document on a topic relevant to Surface Chemistry and Heterogeneous Processes.  Possible project topics will be provided/discussed and each student will need to confirm their choice with the instructor.  The final project report will be due at the end the final examination week and should be submitted to the Chemistry Center. Please note that late reports will not be accepted.


Grading and Grading Criteria: Plus & minus grades will be awarded.


The homework, exams, and final exam will be weighted in the following manner:


2 homework assignments at 50 points each                                                   100 points (20%)

2 in class exams at 125 points each                                                                250 points (50%)

1 in class presentation                                                                                     75 points (15%)

1 final project report                                                                                       75 points (15%)

Total                                                                                                                500 points (100%)


Use of Calculators: You will be permitted to use "simple" scientific calculators on exams. Palm-size, laptop, or other portable computing devices are not permitted during exams.


Tentative topics to be discussed:

  1. Introduction to Surface Chemistry
  2. Adsorption
  3. Desorption
  4. Structure of Solid Surfaces
  5. Electronic Properties of Extended Structures
  6. Surface Analysis: Techniques and Methods
  7. Chemical Bonding at Surfaces
  8. Chemical Reactions at Surfaces
  9. Catalysis
  10. Nanoscience and Nanotechnology
  11. Heterogeneous Processes in Atmospheric and Environmental Chemistry
  12. Interfaces: Material and Biological Surfaces



CLAS Policies and Procedures: Administrative Home: The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences is the administrative home of this course and governs matters such as the add/drop deadlines, the second-grade-only option, and other related issues. Different colleges may have different policies. Questions may be addressed to 120 Schaeffer Hall, or see the CLAS Academic Policies Hand-book at


Electronic Communication: University policy specifies that students are responsible for all official correspondences sent to their University of Iowa e-mail address ( Faculty and students should use this account for correspondences (Operations Manual, III.15.2,k.11).


Accommodations for Disabilities: A student seeking academic accommodations should first register with Student Disability Services and then meet privately with the course instructor to make particular arrangements. See for more information.


Academic Honesty: All CLAS students or students taking classes offered by CLAS have, in essence, agreed to the College’s Code of Academic Honesty: ”I pledge to do my own academic work and to excel to the best of my abilities, upholding the IOWA Challenge. I promise not to lie about my academic work, to cheat, or to steal the words or ideas of others; nor will I help fellow students to violate the Code of Academic Honesty.” Any student committing academic misconduct is reported to the College and placed on disciplinary probation or may be suspended or expelled (CLAS Academic Policies Handbook).


CLAS Final Examination Policies: The final examination schedule for each class is announced by the Registrar generally by the tenth day of classes. Final exams are offered only during the official final examination period. No exams of any kind are allowed during the last week of classes. All students should plan on being at the UI through the final examination period. Once the Registrar has announced the date, time, and location of each final exam, the complete schedule will be published on the Registrar’s web site and will be shared with instructors and students. It is the student’s responsibility to know the date, time, and place of a final exam.


Making a Suggestion or a Complaint: Students with a suggestion or complaint should first visit with the instructor (and the course supervisor), and then with the departmental DEO. Complaints must be made within six months of the incident (CLAS Academic Policies Handbook).


Understanding Sexual Harassment: Sexual harassment subverts the mission of the University and threatens the well-being of students, faculty, and staff. All members of the UI community have a responsibility to uphold this mission and to contribute to a safe environment that enhances learning. Incidents of sexual harassment should be reported immediately. See the UI Comprehensive Guide on Sexual Harassment for assistance, definitions, and the full University policy.


Reacting Safely to Severe Weather: In severe weather, class members should seek appropriate shelter immediately, leaving the classroom if necessary. The class will continue if possible when the event is over. For more information on Hawk Alert and the siren warning system,