Inorganic Chemistry, Fibres and Microscopy - PS534

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Module delivery information

Location Term Level1 Credits (ECTS)2 Current Convenor3 2020 to 2021
Autumn and Spring 5 15 (7.5) DR E McCabe checkmark-circle


Inorganic Chemistry:
Stereochemistry of metal complexes: geometrical, optical, structural, ionisation/hydration, linkage, coordination isomerism.
Bonding in transition metal complexes. Crystal field theory: crystal field splitting, factors effecting crystal field splitting, the spectrochemical series, low spin and high spin complexes, crystal field stabilisation energy (CFSE), hydration energy of M2+ ions, site selection in spinels and the Jahn Teller effect. Thermodynamic and kinetic stability of metal complexes. Stability constants. The chelate effect. Lability of ligands. Preparation and reactivity of transition metal complexes.
Colours of complexes: d?d spectra, spin and Laporte selection rules, intensities of absorptions. Measurement of ligand field splitting energy. Charge transfer absorptions. Diamagnetism, paramagnetism, magnetic moment.
Comparison with the d-block elements. Position of lanthanides and actinides in the periodic table. Electronic configuration, oxidation states and chemistry. The lanthanide contraction. Separation of lanthanide elements. f?f spectra. Chemistry of actinides: uranium.

Fibres and Microscopy:What is a fibre and associated polymers and how are they made? Cellulose and other natural polymers. Synthetic polymers and fibres such as nylon. Overview of methods of identification and analysis. A particular emphasis will be on polarized light microscopy for comparative analysis various materials including fibres, paper and soils.

Experiments in preparative and analytical inorganic chemistry, to include: the separation of nickel and cobalt by ion-exchange chromatography; measurement of the ligand field splitting energy in a titanium (III) complex; preparation and properties of complex ions; isomerism in coordination complexes.


This module appears in the following module collections.

Contact hours

23 hrs lectures18 hrs practical experiments; total contact hrs 41; total study hours: 150.


This is not available as a wild module.

Method of assessment

3 Assignments 15%
Laboratory 25%
Final examination 60%.

Indicative reading

Cotton, Wilkinson and Gaus, Basic Inorganic Chemistry. (3rd edition, 1995, Wiley).

  • Greenwood and Earnshaw, Chemistry of the Elements. (2nd revised edition, 1997, Butterworth-Heinemann Ltd).
  • Winter, d-Block Chemistry, (1994, Royal Society of Chemsitry)
  • Jones, d- and f-Block Chemistry, (2001, Royal Society of Chemistry).
  • Bell, Forensic Chemistry, (2nd edition, 2012, Prentice Hall).

    See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

    Learning outcomes

  • Understand the characteristic properties of the d and f-blocks elements and their compounds.
  • Appreciate developments at the forefront of some areas of Forensic Science, particularly, developments in the structure and bonding in inorganic matter and how this relates to atomic analysis, and separately, developments in fibre and paper analysis which includes polarised light microscopy.
  • Intellectual skills:
  • Ability to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of essential facts, concepts, principles and theories relating to the subject and to apply such knowledge and understanding to the solution of qualitative and quantitative problems. In particular, the ability to link chemical structure to reaction compatibility and further to link reaction sequences.
  • Ability to recognise and analyse problems and plan strategies for their solution by the evaluation, interpretation and presentation of scientific information and data.
  • Ability to recognise and implement good measure science and practice and commonly used forensic laboratory techniques.
  • A knowledge and understanding of the d-block elements and their compounds.
  • A knowledge and understanding of f-block elements and their compounds
  • A knowledge and understanding of materials from which fibres and paper are derived.
  • A knowledge and understanding of fibre structure and techniques used in comparative analysis of these materials for forensic assessment.
  • An understanding of preparation, purification and analysis of a range of inorganic compounds using techniques such as ion-exchange chromatography, infra-red and uv-vis spectroscopy relevant to forensic investigation.
  • An ability to make use of appropriate texts, or other learning resources as part of managing their own learning.
  • Skills in the safe handling of chemical materials, taking into account their physical and chemical properties, including any specific hazards associated with their use and to risk assess such hazards.
  • Skills required for carrying out documented standard laboratory procedures involved in synthetic and analytical work in relation inorganic systems and forensic analysis. Skills in observational and instrumental monitoring of physiochemical events and changes. The systematic and reliable documentation of the above. Operation of standard analytical instruments employed in the chemical sciences.
  • Ability to implement the execution of experiments.
  • The ability to collate, interpret and explain the significance and underlying theory of experimental data, including an assessment of limits of accuracy.
  • Communication skills, covering both written and oral communication.
  • Problem-solving skills, relating to qualitative and quantitative information, extending to situations where evaluations have to be made on the basis of limited information.
  • Information-technology skills such as word-processing and spreadsheet use, data-logging and storage, Internet communication, etc.
  • Interpersonal skills, relating to the ability to interact with other people and to engage in team working within a professional environment.
  • Time-management and organisational skills, as evidenced by the ability to plan and implement efficient and effective modes of working. Self-management and organisational skills with the capacity to support life-long learning.
  • Generic skills needed for students to undertake further training of a professional nature.


    1. Credit level 5. Intermediate level module usually taken in Stage 2 of an undergraduate degree.
    2. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
    3. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
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