Experimental Physical Chemistry:
Advanced Courses in Kinetics, Spectroscopy, and Surface Sciences and Vacuum
Overview(For the current schedule, scroll down.)
The advanced lab courses are the final physical chemistry practical courses in which you are able to work with well established experiments, specifically designed for you. Formerly a mandatory course for all chemistry students, the "PCF Praktikum"–german for Physikalisch-Chemisches Fortgeschrittenenpraktikum–has now been adapted to the increased flexibility of the master's program and has been divided into three topics, "Spectroscopy" (M.Che.1304), "Chemical Kinetics" (M.Che.1305), and "Surface Science and Vacuum Techniques" (M.Che.1308). The participation in these lab courses is voluntary, but participating in at least one course is a prerequisite for the PC research internship (M.Che.1321). Each lab course includes a seminar presentation, three experiments, and a final 15-minute oral exam. It is weighted with 6 credits.
What can you expect from participating in a lab course, and what should you be aware of? We discuss the most important things in the following.
Experiments and general safety
As you are probably familiar with from previous practical lab courses, each experiment is accompanied by a discussion with the assistant lasting approximately one hour (colloquium). This is to ensure that you have thoroughly prepared for the respective experiment (keywords from the experimental instructions help with this) and can perform it without danger to yourself or others. Sources of danger in the lab course are, for example, lasers with high optical power, vacuum set-ups, or toxic gases. Your supervising assistant will show you the safe handling of the set-up at the beginning of the lab day (safety instructions). For this purpose, each experiment is accompanied by a safety folder with supporting documents. You may only use the experimental set-up after receiving the safety instructions and confirming this with your signature in the safety folder. Please bring your own personal protective equipment (lab coat and goggles) and wear long pants and closed shoes.
You have to hand in a report to the assistant no later than two weeks after the experiment has been carried out. The report must be approved after three submissions. No later than two months after the last course day, all reports must be approved (final report approval deadline). Please note that the assistant may refuse to thoroughly correct a report should there be serious shortcomings or important content missing–you effectively lose one of the three submissions. The PCF Reporting Checklist (available in Stud.IP) will protect you from such problems, and it is best to read through it before writing the first report.
In addition to the laboratory work, you will participate in a seminar during which you will listen to talks by other participants and also give a talk yourself. Your goal is to clearly explain a topic that is relevant to the lab course in 20 minutes. Your slides will be made available to your audience and serve as a handout. The talk will be supervised by a teaching assistant who can support you in the preparation of your slides. In order to promote a lively discussion, we require that you ask at least one question in the seminar and record it along with your answer. Also, we encourage discussing the overall performance and comprehensibility of the talk and slides.
Unfortunately, misconduct in the lab course occurs regularly, to the detriment of all involved. This includes inadequate preparation of the experiment, negligent writing of the report, last-minute cancellation of lab course participation, failure to meet a submission deadline, and, at worst, violation of the rules of good research practice (GRP). The disadvantages of such behavior are obvious: avoidable extra work (negligence), unfair time constraints (stretching of deadlines), lost lab course places and working time (cancellations, GRP violations), loss of credibility, mistrust in scientific knowledge (GRP violations).
We sanction misconduct at a minimum by:
- Repeating the experiment may be required if the colloquium was not properly prepared or the report not approved after three submissions; repeating the talk may be required if the talk had major shortcomings or if the submission deadline for uploading the slides was missed.
- Exclusion from the lab course may follow if the second experiment would have to be repeated due to misconduct, if the final approval deadline was missed, or good research practice was violated.
- Exclusion from registration in the following semester may follow if in the current semester you cancel your participation on short notice or drop out due to misconduct.
Your participation will be particularly successful if you allow yourself sufficient time for the lab course, have a special interest in the subject matter, and work carefully. Take advantage of the intensive supervision and benefit from the experience of your assistants: Ask questions! Address problems early on! Be aware of submission deadlines and complete your work on time! Be diligent! Your future self, browsing through your old PCF reports, will thank you.
Summer Semester 2024
(For the previous semester, click here.)
In summer terms, the lab courses run parallel to the lectures. We offer two time slots, Course 1 at the beginning of the semester's lecture period (April, May) and Course 2 at the end (June, July), see the schedule below. Note that the courses each have their own preparatory meeting and deadlines. You can book both, the earlier and the later course, for example Course 1 in Spectroscopy (M.Che.1304) and Course 2 in Kinetics (M.Che.1305).
Preparatory Meeting (Vorbesprechung)
Course 1 and 2 each have their own preparatory meeting. The preparatory meeting for Course 1 will take place on Friday, March 1 from 1 PM to 2 PM in the IPC seminar room MN32. The meeting for Course 2 will take place on Friday, April 5, 1 PM to 2 PM, also in seminar room MN32. The preparatory meetings are organized via the following StudIP group, please enroll there: StudIP group for preparatory meeting. The presentation slides of the preparatory meetings will be made available there as well.
If anything is unclear, contact Nils Lüttschwager (IPC Room 1.123, nluetts[at]gwdg.de).