van't Hoff osmotic pressure

Content: colligative properties, solutions

Level: introductory (exercise 2), introductory+ (exercise 1)

Reference: J. H. van't Hoff, "The Role of Osmotic Pressure in the Analogy Between Solutions and Gases," Zeitschrift für physikalische Chemie 1, 481-508 (1887)

Notes: Jacobus Henricus van't Hoff (1852-1911) is regarded as one of the founders of physical chemistry for his investigations in thermodynamics, kinetics, and solutions. His work on osmotic pressure is probably the most widely known of these researches. He may be known to even more chemistry students, however, for his earlier proposal of the tetrahedral bonding geometry of carbon. He was awarded the first Nobel Prize in chemistry, in 1901.

van't Hoff's work on osmotic pressure is an admirable synthesis of theory (van't Hoff's contribution) and experimental data (mainly published by other investigators). These exercises treat data van't Hoff presented in support of the concentration and pressure dependences he derived for osmotic pressure. The paper also makes important connections to data collected by Raoult on other colligative properties (See exercises on Raoult's data on freezing point depression and vapor pressure depression.) and to the anomalous behavior of electrolyte solutions that Arrhenius would soon build upon (See exercises on Arrhenius's data on electrolyte solutions -- on colligative properties in general and on strong and weak electrolytes in particular.).

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Copyright 2003 by Carmen Giunta. Permission is granted to reproduce for non-commercial educational purposes.

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