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master degree course in PHYSICS – FISICA

Course year 1
Teaching units Unit Chemical Physics of Biomolecules
Related or Additional Studies (lesson)
  • TAF: Supplementary compulsory subjects SSD: FIS/07 CFU: 6
Teachers: Giorgia BRANCOLINI
Exam type oral
Evaluation final vote
Teaching language English
Contents download pdf download




Knowledge and understanding
At the end of the course the student should be acquainted with the main biomolecules and the physico-chemical principles for the interpretation of their structure and their behavior.

Applying knowledge and understanding
At the end of the course the student should be able to apply the acquired knowledge to simple concrete problems in the field of the physical chemistry of biomolecules.

Making judgments
At the end of the course the student should be able to autonomously recognize the main features of biomolecules and to interpret them in the light of general physico-chemical principles.

Communication skills
At the end of the course the student should be able to orally report on the subjects that have been taught in the course, using a proper technical language

Learning skills
The study of physical chemistry of biomolecules, intrinsically multidisciplinary, allows the development of autonomous learning capabilities and of capabilities to deepen the knowledge of subjects that go beyond a monodiscipline background

Admission requirements

Basic knowledge of Chemistry, to the level of Chemistry course for "Laurea Triennale" in Physics

Course contents

• Review of the chemical bond theory: molecular orbital theory, bond order, VB theory and resonance, partial atomic charges, main features of the bonds relevant for biomolecules
• Optical isomerism: conformation and configuration, optical rotation, circular dichroism
• Intermolecular interactions: microscopic origin, relative strength in biomolecules
• Review of chemical kinetics and thermodynamics: reaction enthalpy, entropy and free energy; rate equations, transition state theory
• Water: physico-chemical properties and their molecular origin, ionic solutions, acids and bases.
• Proteins: amino acids, peptide bond, structure
• DNA: molecular component and structure of DNA
• Biomembranes: phospholipids and their chemistry, lipid double layer

Teaching methods

Lecture Notes, Problems and Solutions Student consultation time: Friday 17-19 or by appointment to be asked by e-mail (

Assessment methods

Examination: End-of-course oral assessment


P. Atkins, Physical Chemistry, Oxford University Press ed.
J. N. Israelachvili, Intermolecular and Surface Forces, Elsevier Ed. (Third Edition)
R. Garret, C. Grisham, Biochemistry, Thomson ed.