3.091 Introduction to Solid State Chemistry


Massachusetts Institute of Technology



Professor Michael J. Cima

Room 76-653, x3-6877, email mjcima@mit.edu

Office hours are posted on the 3.091 Calendar

      All times/locations are: 8:00-9:30 am, Maseeh Dining



Kerri Mills
Room 10-110, x3-3490, email kamills@mit.edu
           Office hours are posted with the recitation assignments 


Barbara Layne
Room 76-653, x3-2185, email blayne@mit.edu




Summary of changes to 3.091

·      Lecture and recitation format remains the same as in previous years.

·      The text for the course will be the on-line content from 3.091x.

·      Assessment will be done on-line in a proctored setting during drop-in evening hours.  There is no time limit except that the drop-in hours will end at 10pm. 

·      Assessment will consists of 27 to 37 single problems done on-line. (Successful completion of 27 assessments is the minimum to pass the course.)

·      Flexibility is given to the student as to which assessment to take in each of the fourteen units of material. 

·      You may attempt a given assessment as often as necessary to successfully complete it. 

·      There will be no final or other types of written exams. 




I have worked with the Committee on the Undergraduate Program (CUP) to develop an experiment to determine how on-line content might be used to improve the 3.091 experience.  The experiment for this Fall will consist of 1) replacing the 3.091 text with the on-line material from 3.091x, 2) student assessment will be done on-line in a proctored environment using the tools we have developed for 3.091x.  Lecture, recitation format will remain the same although we will get to take advantage of some of the new material in the “text”.  Effectiveness will be measured based on outcome scores from the 2011 and 2012 class.  My preparation included the following, 1) learning outcomes comparison between 3.091 and 3.091x, 2) met with my department’s faculty undergraduate committee, 3) conducted a poll from the 750 students in the 2011 and 2012 3.091 classes, 4) met with the course 3 undergraduate student association, 5) discussions and approval by the CUP.


3.091 has not had a formal text for many years.  We formerly used a combination of a standard University chemistry text, course notes written for the class, and a reader of individual chapters from many other texts.  None of these sources covers the detail that we actually cover in the class.  That means I end up having to go through much more detail in lecture that can really be assimilated in the standard 50 minute lecture.  This also has a negative impact on the number of examples I can cover, the number of questions I can take, the number of questions I can ask, and the number of demonstrations I can perform. 


Use of the on-line material as the text will solve the deficiencies of the current reading material.  The online learning sequence for each lecture has the details not offered in the standard University text.  Each learning sequence consists on average of 40 minutes of video segments when played at 1.0x speed.  The video can also, of course, be played at 1.5x speed which many students seem to find perfectly understandable.  Thus, I estimate that the diligent student would spend no more than two hours per week “reading the text” and, in most cases, considerably less time.


On line assessment:


The change to using on-line assessment is based on a hypothesis that the current mode of exams written during fix time exam periods does not adequately measure student skills and comprehension.  The standard 3.091 assessment has been three monthly exams, approximately ten homework quizzes, and a final.  All told, student assessment is based on their answer to 37 questions.  My experiment intends to remove the time constraint by having students take up to 37 proctored on-line quizzes over the course of the semester. A passing grade only requires successful completion of 27 assessments.  Flexibility is given to the student as to which assessment to take in each unit of material. The topics of the course are divided into fifteen units.  There will be no final.


Each assessment consists of a single problem and represents a learning outcome measurement.  Assessments will be administered in an Athena cluster in which a TA is present.  We will reserve this cluster from 7 pm to 10 pm every evening and students may use as much time as they want.  There is a specified time window to complete each assessment.  If an assessment is not answered correctly, the student may take it again and for as many times as they want within the time window. There is a twenty four hour lockout between quiz attempts.  The student is envisioned to identify themselves to the TA, so that identification can be verified.  The TA would then set permissions so that the student can take the desired assessment.  There would be no web access and no notes used during the assessment.  Ideally, the tool would have provisions for us to provide a standard set of notes consisting of tables, formulas, and constants.


Each learning outcome assessment is randomly selected from a group of many related problems in what I call the “3.091x Problem Bank”. Parameters for many of the individual problems are randomly selected.  Thus, each student sees a new problem each time they sit down to see an assessment.  The prototype of the Problem Bank has been tested on a 3.091x exam and worked flawlessly.  The lock-out period is desired because it will prevent students from searching for the easiest problem they can find in the Problem Bank.


3.091 Syllabus Fall 2013



Lecture Date

Lecture and assessment titles


Due date

Week 1

Sep. 4, W

1: Why Solid-State Chemistry



Sep. 6, F

2: Modern Chemical Concepts and Periodicity of the Elements

Unit 1

(must pass 2)

Sep. 14

Week 2

Sep. 9, M

3: The Electron and Light

Sep. 11,W

4: Atomic Structure

Unit 2

(must pass 2)

Sep. 21

Sep. 13, F

5: Wave-Particle Duality

Week 3

Sep. 16, M

6: Spin and the Multielectron Atom

Sep. 18, W

7: Electron Transfer and Ionic Bonding

Unit 3

(must pass 2)

Sep. 28

Week 4

Sep. 23, M

8: Covalent Bonding

Sep. 25, W

9: Periodic Trends and Bonding

Sep. 27, F

10a: Molecular Orbitals

Unit 4

(must pass 2)

Oct. 5

Week 5

Sep. 30, M

10b: Hybridization and Molecular Geometry

Oct. 2, W

11: Intermolecular Forces and Materials Properties

Oct. 4, F

12: Reaction Kinetics

Unit 5

(must pass 2)

Oct. 12

Week 6

Oct. 7, M

13: Reaction Mechanisms

Oct. 9, W

14: Band Theory of Solids

Unit 6

(must pass 2)

Oct. 19

Oct. 11, F

15: Band Gaps and Optical Properties

Week 7

Oct. 16, W

16: Conductivity of Semiconductors

Oct. 18, F

17: Crystal Structures

Unit 7

(must pass 2)

Oct. 26

Week 8

Oct. 21, M

18: X-Rays and their Generation

Oct. 23, W

19: Diffraction and Braggs’ Law

Oct. 25, F

20: Bonding and the Mechanical Behavior of Solids

Unit 8

(must pass 2)

Nov. 2

Week 9

Oct. 28, M

21: Defects in Solids

Oct. 30, W

22: Plastic Deformation and Defects

Nov. 1, F

23: Amorphous Inorganic Solids

Unit 9

(must pass 1)

Nov. 9

Week 10

Nov. 4, M

24: Properties of Glasses

Nov. 6, W

25: Diffusion in Solids

Unit 10

(must pass 2)

Nov. 16

Nov. 8, F

26: Time-Dependent Diffusion

Week 11

Nov. 13, W

27: Solutions and Chemical Equilibrium

Unit 11

(must pass 2)

Nov. 23

Nov. 15, F

28: Equilibrium Between Phases

Week 12

Nov. 18, M

29: Multicomponent Phase Diagrams

Nov. 20, W

30: Chemistry of Carbon

Unit 12

(must pass 2)

Nov. 30

Nov. 22, F

31: Polymer Synthesis

Week 13

Nov. 25, M

32: Polymer Properties

Nov. 27, W

33: Surface Energy and Surfactants

Unit 13

(must pass 1)

Nov. 23

Week 14

Dec. 2, M

34: Molecular Aggregation

Dec. 4, W

35: Acids and Bases

Unit 14

(must pass 3)

Dec. 11

Dec. 6, F

36: Amino Acids and Protein Synthesis

Week 15

Dec. 9, M

37: Protein Structure and Structural Carbohydrates

Dec. 11, W

38: Perspective: chemical Bonding and Materials





Total Assessments required to pass