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CHEM 223: Experimental Physical Chemistry I: Overview

A question-answer based approach to the physical chemistry literature, focussing on tools to help students locate physical constants, structural data, and crystallography information.

Chemistry 223 Physical Chemistry Laboratory - Course Guide

So you need to use the library

  1. I've located or been given a literature reference. Does Penn have the book or journal in which it appears? If so, where do I find it?
    1. Look the book or journal up on Franklin, the University of Pennsylvania's online card catalog. This will give you the library in which the item is held and the call number. To search for a journal title, highlight the Journal Titlesearch option. If you are unsure whether your title is a book or a journal, highlight the Title search option. If you can't find your title, you may have copied it incorrectly. Try using a Keyword Search, combining the words about which you are positive with Boolean operators (and/or/not).

    2. If the reference is to a journal article published since 1995, try the electronic journals link from the Science and Engineering Libraries home page. Type the title of the journal in the text box in the corner of the screen and click the Go! butt on.
  2. I need to find background information on the subject of my experiment. What can I use?
    1. Use a SciFinder Scholar search. If you want to find more information about a particular compound, use a substance search (structure, formula, name, or CAS number) or a research topic search (keywords about the topic). If you are interested in fi nding review articles, articles that summarize all research done on a particular topic, refine your search by document type review.

    2. Use an ISI Citation Index search by topic. To find review articles, refine your search by document type review.
  3. I've got some background information, but I fear it may be out of date. How can I find more up-to-date references?
    1. Do a SciFinder Scholar search. Refine by publication year to get more current information.
    2. Perform an ISI topic search, but first set the years searched to only those that you consider to be appropriately current.
    3. Perform an ISI citation search. Search for articles that cite your article in their bibliographies.
  4. Where can I find thermodynamics or physical properties data?
    1. Use a print handbook.
      • CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics. Online, most current print version available at the Chemistry Library circulation desk.

      • CRC Handbook of Thermophysical and Thermochemical Data. Chemistry Reference QC173.397 L54 1994
      • Handbook of Thermodynamic Diagrams. Engineering Reference QD504 Y36 1996
        1. Handbook of Thermodynamic Tables and Charts. Engineering Reference QC311.3 R3913
        2. A Dictionary of Thermodynamics. Chemistry Reference QC310.3 J35 1976
        3. Handbook of the Thermodynamics of Organic Compounds. Chemistry Reference QD504 S735 1987
        4. Handbook of Applied Thermodynamics. Engineering Reference TJ265 P27 1987
        5. Use an online handbook.
  5. I need to look up a spectrum. Where can I find it?
    1. Use a print source.
      • The Aldrich Library of NMR and the Aldrich Library of IR Spectra. Two sets located in the Chemistry Library Reading Room that provide graphical spectra for compounds sold by Aldrich.
      • The Sadtler spectroscopic sources, also located in the Chemistry Library Reading Room, provide spectral peak information but do not provide actual graphical spectra.

      • There are several UV sources located in the Chemistry Library Reference room. However, it is usually better to do a search for your substance on Beilstein or Gmelin.

      • Try Molecular Spectra and Molecular Structure by Herzberg, on reserve at the Chemistry Library. There are four volumes, each dealing with a different topic. They are:
        • Volume 1: Spectra of Diatomic Molecules
        • Volume 2: Infrared and Raman Spectra of Polyatomic Molecules
        • Volume 3: Electronic Spectra and Electronic Structure of Polyatomic Molecules
        • Volume 4: Constants of Diatomic Molecules
      • Use an electronic source.
        • The NIST Chemistry Web Book (provides graphical IR and MS spectra.)

        • (links to other sources but does not provide spectra itself.)

        • SDBS (provides graphical NMR, IR, ESR, MS, and other spectra for about 30,000 compounds.
        • Properties of Popular NMR Solvents from the UniversitatPottsdam gives you many pieces of information about NMR solvents, including their spectra.

        • Calculator for various spectroscopic shifts, also from the Universitat Pottsdam allows you to input shifts and get possible functional groups with those shifts.

        • NIST Atomic Spectral Databases

        • Emission Spectra for Elements (uses Java applets) (links to other sources but does not provide spectra itself.)

        • The Chemistry Library and the Engineering Library each have one seat to the Cambridge Structural Database (CSD). Chemistry's is located on the computer on the right against the back wall of the Reading Room. You can use Cambridge if you have a comp ound and would like to find the bond lengths or angles. You can also use it to look up exact crystal structures that appear in journal articles (searching by journal or author). For more information, see, or contact Judith Currano in the library.

          1. The Cambridge Crystallographic Data Center, at, contains more information than the specs on the CSD! Visit their main site to find more.

          2. Interactive Tutorial about Diffraction from the University of Wuerzburg is an online textbook dealing with diffraction. It contains several "quiz" questions and interactive modul es.

          4. Crystal Lattice Structures, from the US Department of the Navy. You specify the lattice type, it gives you examples of crystals that meet your specifications.

          5. Information on crystal systems can be found on Beilstein or Gmelin CrossFire by doing a textual search. Beilstein (organic compounds) gives various properties associated with the crystal system; Gmelin records (inorganic compounds and coordination compounds) contain such specifics as lattice lengths and angles. Please note that not every compound has all pieces of information associated with it! You can locate Gmelin text search help sheets at

  6. I'm confused and I don't know WHAT I need! Where can I get help?
    Contact Judith Currano at 8-2177,, or by visiting the Chemistry Library.

Subject Guide

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Judith Currano
1973 Wing, Chemistry Laboratories
Penn Libraries Home Franklin Home
(215) 898-7555