Dr. C. Maurice Balik

Dr. C. Maurice Balik

Materials Science and Engineering

Phone: 919-515-2126
Fax: 919-515-7724
Instructor Website

MSE 708 Thermodynamics of Materials

3 Credit Hours

This course is divided into three parts: a review of classical thermodynamics, an introduction to statistical thermodynamics and materials-relevant applications of classical and statistical thermodynamics. Topics include: mathematical background, fundamental laws of thermodynamics, equilibrium and irreversible processes, open, closed and isolated systems, multicomponent systems, partition functions and particle distribution functions, ideal gases, solution thermodynamics, heat capacity of crystals, rubber elasticity, surface and interface thermodynamics and thermodynamics of nanoscale systems.


An undergraduate course in thermodynamics or consent of the instructor.

Course Objectives

To understand the underlying thermodynamic principles of materials governing their structure, properties and function in selected applications. Upon successful completion of this course, students will be able to:

  • state the fundamental laws of thermodynamics
  • use appropriate methods from multi-variable calculus to manipulate thermodynamic equations
  • derive general thermodynamic equations that apply to isolated, closed and open systems
  • describe the conditions for equilibrium
  • derive partition functions for macroscopic systems and relate them to thermodynamic quantities
  • derive particle distribution functions for microscopic systems and relate them to thermodynamic quantities
  • apply classical or statistical thermodynamics to the description of ideal gases, solutions, rubbery elastic polymers, crystal heat capacities, interfaces and nanoscale systems.

Course Requirements

HOMEWORK: 8 homework assignments (~50 problems)

EXAMINATIONS: Three including the final exam. The final exam is not comprehensive.


Thermodynamics in Materials Science, 2nd edition by Robert DeHoff (Taylor and Francis, 2006). Selected chapters will be covered from this text and additional supplementary material will be provided in the class notes.