Atkins, Peter W. Retired, Department of Chemistry, Lincoln College/Oxford University, United Kingdom.
Last reviewed:May 2019
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- Zeroth law of thermodynamics
- First law of thermodynamics
- Second law of thermodynamics
- Third law of thermodynamics
- Gibbs free energy
- Thermodynamics of irreversible processes
- Additional Reading
Laws governing the transformation of energy. Thermodynamics is the science of the transformation of energy. It differs from the dynamics of English physicist and mathematician Isaac Newton by taking into account the concept of temperature, which is outside the scope of classical mechanics. In practice, thermodynamics is useful for assessing the efficiencies of heat engines (devices that transform heat into work, see Fig. 1) and refrigerators (devices that use external sources of work to transfer heat from a hot system to cooler sinks), and for discussing the spontaneity of chemical reactions (their tendency to occur naturally) and the work that they can be used to generate. See also: Chemistry; Energy; Heat; Newton's laws of motion; Physics; Refrigeration; Refrigerator; Temperature
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