CHEM 125:


in the Department of Chemistry at Kenyon College


course web site

Students enrolled in CHEM 125 have access to a Moodle course web site, by logging into the Moodle server. If you are a member of the Kenyon community and have a Kenyon network account, you can log into our course homepage using the login key "nano". If you are off the Kenyon network, this site is unavailable directly.

course overview

"Why cannot we write the entire 24 volumes of the Encyclopedia Brittanica on the head of a pin?"

physicist Richard Feynman famously asked.


Nanoscience is an emerging field that focuses on the study of materials on the nanometer (billionth of a meter) scale.  Nanoscience encompasses the principles of how to make and measure the properties of nano-scale materials for a wide variety of applications known as “nanotechnology”.  The field is interdisciplinary by nature, combining chemistry, physics, biology and engineering.  Materials Chemistry is the related field of chemistry in the solid state, at the nano-scale or larger, ranging from organic plastics to inorganic semiconductors.


In CHEM 125: Nanoscience and Materials Chemistry, we will explore the chemistry behind such topics as: fuel cells, photovoltaic materials for solar panels, carbon nanotubes, quantum dots, glucose and other biomedical sensors, photodynamic therapy for cancer, molecular self assembly, artificial photosynthesis, sensors for explosives and bio-warfare agents, self-cleaning windows, clear sunscreens, gold nanoparticles that cure cancer, light emitting diodes (LEDs), molecular wires, and the curse of the nanobots.  Do novels like Prey by Michael Crichton or movies like Fantastic Voyage accurately represent the nanoworld?  Could nanobots in our bloodstream cure disease, or will they cover the planet in a “grey goo”?  We will also explore some debates about the hope and hype of nanoscience.


CHEM 125 is a course designed to explore the principles of chemistry that are essential to nanoscience and materials chemistry.  This course or CHEM 124 (Biophysical and Medicinal Chemistry) are the second semester introductory chemistry options for students who have completed either CHEM 121 or CHEM 122.   CHEM 124 and CHEM 125 have similar requirements and expectations for homework and exams.  Either spring semester course (with lab) is appropriate for continuing your studies in Organic Chemistry next year, and either course satisfies requirements for pre-med or chemistry and biochemistry majors.


We recommend students registering for CHEM 125 also register for the accompanying lab course CHEM 126 section 04, if possible.  


CHEM 125 will use the textbook Chemical Principles (5th Ed.) by Zumdahl (same as that used in CHEM 122 in the fall semester)


topics of study

         Topic 1: introduction to nanoscience: small things considered and supramolecular architecture

         Topic 2: Fuels of the future: hydrogen, ethanol, or "clean coal"?

         Topic 3: batteries and fuel cells

         Topic 4: quantum dots

         Topic 5: excited states

         Topic 6: molecular wires

         Topic 7: photovoltaics and light-emitting diodes

         Topic 8: chemical kinetics

         Topic 9: multi-step kinetics

         Topic 10: molecular self-assembly

         Topic 11: organic materials

         Topic 12: inorganic materials

         Topic 13: designing sensors

         Topic 14: The future of nano: from nanobots to molecular machines

Course Information


Prof. Scott D. Cummings, Tomsich 314; PBX 5355; e-mail: cummingss@kenyon.edu


My schedule is posted online and on my office door of where you can find me throughout the week. I fully expect students to meet with me outside of class. You are welcome and encouraged to come.


Monday, Wednesday, Friday 9:10-10:00 (Period 2) in Tomsich 207.

REQUIRED MATERIALS: (available at the college bookstore)

  • Chemical Principles Fifth Edition by Zumdahl
  • a calculator (bring to class and exams)
  • access to the Kenyon network (p: drive, Moodle) and your Kenyon email account