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Thermodynamics 6: The Ideal Gas Law and Kinetic Theory of

18.6, 20.1

PHYSICS 120 Advancing Physics I

Friday 10 May, 2019
Learning objectives

By the end of this class, you should be able to:

• Apply the ideal gas law to situations involving the pressure, volume,
temperature, and the number of molecules of a gas.
• Use the unit of moles in relation to numbers of molecules, molecular mass
and macroscopic mass.
• Explain the relations between microscopic and macroscopic quantities in a
• Solve problems involving the distance and time between a gas molecule’s


• Individual Learning Profile (Link)

• Reminders:
• Teammates 3 on Monday 13 May
• Assignment 8 by Wednesday 15 May
• Quiz 4 on Wednesday 15 May
• Lab 4 by Friday 17 May

Table of contents

1. Atoms and moles

2. Ideal gas law

3. The kinetic theory of gases

Atoms and moles
Number density

Number density
In an N-atom system that fills volume V,
number density =

Distinguish number density (N/V) from

mass density (M/V).

Atomic mass and atomic mass number

Moles and molar mass

Avogadro’s number

NA = 6.02 × 1023 mol −1

Moles of substance
For a substance containing N basic
particles, the number of moles n in the
substance is
Which of these contains more atoms:
N 1 mol of helium gas (A = 4) or 1 mol of
NA oxygen gas (A = 16)?

Moles and molar mass

For a system of mass M consisting of For a system of mass M consisting of

atoms or molecules with atomic or atoms or molecules with molar mass
molecular mass m, the number of atoms Mmol , the number of moles n is
or molecules N is
M n=
N= Mmol

Atoms and moles

Reference values and geometry:

Example 18.2, p. 516 • Table 18.1 (on the next slide)
How many moles of oxygen (O2 ) are in • Table 18.2 (see Slide 5)
100 g of oxygen gas? • The atomic mass number of gold is
Exercise 18.9, p. 533 197.
Two moles of gold are shaped into a • The surface area of a sphere = 4πr2
sphere. What is the sphere’s diameter? • The volume of a sphere = 43 πr3

Atoms and moles

Ideal gas law

Images: Australian Geographic, 2014. Iceland’s volcanic eruptions.

Gases and gas laws

Image: Figure 2.2 in University Physics, Openstax.

Gases and gas laws

Image: Figure 2.3 in University Physics, Openstax.

Boyle’s law

Charles’ law

Gas laws

Boyle’s law or Mariotte’s law: At constant temperature, the product of the

pressure and the volume of an ideal gas is constant.
p∝ p1 V1 = p2 V2
Charles’ law: At constant pressure, the volume and temperature of a gas are
directly proportional.
V1 V2
V∝T =
T1 T2
Amonton’s or Gay-Lussac’s law: The pressure exerted on a container of a
fixed volume by a gas is directly proportional to the temperature of the gas.
p1 p2
p∝T =
T1 T2

Ideal gas law

Ideal gas law

The ideal gas law characterises the
relations of four state variables – the
absolute pressure of a gas p, the volume
the gas occupies V, the number of moles
in the gas n, the absolute temperature of
the gas T – for a gas in thermal
equilibrium. Experimentally, for gases at
low density (such that their molecules
occupy a negligible fraction of the total
volume) and at temperatures well above
the boiling point, these proportionalities
hold to a good approximation. 16
Ideal gas law

Ideal gas law

pV = nRT

where p is in Pa (= N m−2 ), V is in m −3 , n
is the number of moles in the gas,
R = 8.31 J mol−1 K−1 , T is in K.

pV = NkB T

where N is the number of molecules in

the gas, kB = NRA = 1.38 × 10−23 J K−1 .

Ideal gas law

Exercise 18.21, p. 533

A rigid container holds 2.0 mol of gas at a pressure of 1.0 atm and a temperature
of 30 ◦C. (1 atm ≈ 101.3 kPa)

(a) What is the container’s volume?

(b) What is the pressure if the temperature is raised to 130 ◦C?

More on atmospheric pressure (atm) here.

Ideal gas law

Exercise 18.26, p. 533

A gas at temperature T0 and atmospheric pressure fills a cylinder. The gas is
transferred to a new cylinder with three times the volume, after which the
pressure is half the original pressure. What is the new temperature of the gas?

Ideal gas law

Adapted from Example 18.6, p. 524

‘Standard temperature and pressure’, abbreviated STP, are T = 0 ◦C and p = 1 atm.
Consider a gas that behaves like an ideal gas at STP:

(a) Determine the volume of 1.00 mol of such gas at STP.

(b) Use your answer for (a) to estimate how many molecules you breathe in with
a 1.0-L breath of air at STP.
(c) Determine the average volume per gas molecule at STP.
(d) Estimate the average distance between such gas molecules at STP.

The kinetic theory of gases
Micro-macro connection

If matter really consists of atoms and molecules, then the macroscopic

properties of matter, such as temperature, pressure, specific heat capacity,
should be related to the microscopic motion of those atoms and molecules.

Molecular speeds and collisions

Molecular speeds and collisions

Mean free path

If a molecule has Ncoll collisions as it
travels distance L, the average distance
between collisions, is called the mean
free path λ.


Molecular speeds and collisions

λ= √
4 2π(N/V)r2
Molecular speeds and collisions

Example 20.1, p. 572

What is the mean free path of a nitrogen molecule at 1.0 atm pressure and room
temperature (20 ◦C)?
Although laboratory measurements are necessary to determine atomic and
molecular radii, it is reasonable to approximate atoms in a monatomic gas have
r ≈ 0.5 × 10−10 m and diatomic molecules have r ≈ 1.0 × 10−10 m.

Try this
Determine the mean free path of a nitrogen molecule at STP (1.0 atm and 0 ◦C)
and compare it with your calculation for the average separation between gas
molecules at STP in the previous exercise.

Molecular speeds and collisions

A model of an ideal gas with a nominal atomic diameter of 3 × 10−10 m at STP

Image: HyperPhysics. Mean free path perspective.

Reference answers

Example 18.2 3.13 mol of oxygen molecules

Exercise 18.9 diameter = 3.39 cm
Exercise 18.21
(a) V = 0.050 m3
(b) p = 1.3 atm
Exercise 18.26 Tnew = 32 T0
Adapted from Example 18.6
(a) V = 22.4 × 10−3 m−3 = 22.4 L
(b) Number of molecules ≈ 3 × 1022
(c) V = 3.72 × 10−26 m3
(d) average distance ≈ 4 nm
Example 20.1 λ = 230 nm