Dulong Petit Law

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Created by: Team Physics - Examples.com, Last Updated: May 7, 2024

Dulong Petit Law

Dulong-Petit Law is a principle in physics that describes the molar heat capacity of solid elements. This law of physics states that the molar heat capacity of many solid elements at room temperature is approximately 3 times the gas constant (𝑅), which is about 25 J/molΒ·K. It specifically applies to metallic elements with high atomic masses, offering insight into the thermal properties of materials and the behavior of specific heat.

What is Dulong Petit Law?

The Dulong-Petit Law is an empirical rule in physics that relates to the heat capacity of solid elements, particularly metals. It asserts that the molar heat capacity (specific heat capacity multiplied by molar mass) of many solid elements is roughly constant and approximately 3 times the gas constant (R). This value is around 25 J/molΒ·K. The law primarily applies to metallic elements with relatively high atomic masses. Providing insight into the thermal properties of materials and how heat capacity behaves at certain temperatures.

Dulong Petit Law Relevances

The Dulong-Petit Law remains relevant in several contexts:

  1. Material Identification: Physicists and chemists use the Dulong-Petit Law to identify solid elements by approximating their molar heat capacities, aiding in understanding material properties.
  2. Thermal Property Analysis: Researchers apply the law to predict the heat capacities of metals and certain solid elements. Which helps in analyzing thermal behavior.
  3. Historical Context: Although not universally accurate. the Dulong-Petit Law provides insight into early attempts to understand specific heat capacities and their relation to atomic weights.
  4. Material Science Education: The law helps students grasp foundational concepts about the relationship between heat capacity and atomic structure. Even as modern science recognizes its limitations.
  5. Industrial Applications: Engineers sometimes use the law’s approximations for metals to estimate thermal properties during material selection in various applications.

Dulong Petit Law Formula

The formula for the Dulong-Petit Law is:



  • πΆβ‚˜β€‹: Molar heat capacity of the element (usually in joules per mole per Kelvin, J/molΒ·K)
  • 𝑅: Universal gas constant (approximately 8.314 J/molΒ·K)

The law approximates that the molar heat capacity for many solid elements. Particularly metals, is about 25 J/molΒ·K which is roughly equal to 3 times the gas constant.

Derivation of Dulong Petit Law

The Dulong-Petit Law is an empirical relationship that describes the molar heat capacity of many solid elements, particularly metals. Here’s a basic explanation of its derivation:

Fundamental Concept: The law is based on the classical equipartition of energy, which suggests that each atom in a solid has three degrees of freedom. Corresponding to motion in the three spatial dimensions (x, y, and z).

Energy Per Degree of Freedom: According to classical theory, each degree of freedom has an average energy of 1/2π‘˜π‘‡ per atom, where π‘˜k is the Boltzmann constant and 𝑇 is the temperature in Kelvin. Since there are three degrees of freedom, the total energy per atom is: 𝐸=3Γ—1/2π‘˜π‘‡=3/2π‘˜π‘‡

Heat Capacity Per Atom: The heat capacity per atom is then calculated as the derivative of this energy with respect to temperature: πΆβ‚β‚œβ‚’β‚˜=𝑑𝐸/𝑑𝑇=3/2π‘˜

Heat Capacity Per Mole: To find the molar heat capacity (πΆβ‚˜), we multiply the heat capacity per atom by Avogadro’s number (𝑁ₐ​): πΆβ‚˜=𝑁ₐ×3/2π‘˜=3𝑅 Here, 𝑅=π‘β‚π‘˜ is the universal gas constant.

Final Formula: This gives the Dulong-Petit Law: πΆβ‚˜=3𝑅

This law suggests that the molar heat capacity of many solid elements is approximately 3 times the gas constant (3𝑅), which equals about 25 J/molΒ·K.

Uses of Dulong Petit Law

Uses of Dulong Petit Law
  1. Material Science: Scientists rely on the Dulong-Petit Law to estimate the molar heat capacities of metals and solid elements, which helps predict thermal properties and behaviors in different applications.
  2. Industrial Processes: In industry, engineers use the law to design and select materials for thermal systems, thereby ensuring efficiency in processes like heat exchangers and furnaces.
  3. Thermodynamic Analysis: The law aids in thermodynamic studies of substances, offering insight into their specific heat capacity at room temperature and simplifying calculations for energy changes.
  4. Historical Context: Even though more accurate models exist today, the Dulong-Petit Law provides historical context to the development of specific heat theories. Thereby helping students understand the evolution of thermodynamics.
  5. Teaching: Educators use the Dulong-Petit Law to introduce fundamental concepts of specific heat capacity in solid elements. Thus giving students a basic understanding of material properties.
  6. Electronics: The Dulong-Petit Law aids in electronics design by helping estimate heat dissipation in materials. Ensuring that electronic devices maintain optimal operating temperatures.

Limitations of Dulong Petit Law

Limitations of Dulong Petit Law
  1. Low Temperature Inaccuracy: The Dulong-Petit Law becomes inaccurate at low temperatures. Consequently, the specific heat capacity of materials deviates from the predicted value due to quantum effects.
  2. Light Elements: This law does not accurately predict the heat capacities of light elements. In particular, hydrogen and boron show significant deviations because of their low atomic masses.
  3. Non-Metallic Elements: The law applies mostly to metals. As a result, it does not provide accurate predictions for non-metals, which often have varying specific heat capacities.
  4. High Temperature Limitations: The law fails at extremely high temperatures. The energy distribution becomes altered by atomic vibrations and energy states, leading to discrepancies.
  5. Anisotropic Materials: Materials with different properties in different directions, like crystals, also defy the Dulong-Petit Law due to their complex internal structures.

Examples for Dulong Petit Law

  1. Copper’s Specific Heat: Scientists use the Dulong-Petit Law to approximate copper’s molar heat capacity. With a high atomic mass, it aligns well with the predicted value.
  2. Iron’s Thermal Behavior: By applying the law, engineers estimate iron’s heat capacity. This helps them design efficient heat exchangers and other thermal systems.
  3. Gold’s Heat Capacity: Researchers use the law to predict gold’s heat capacity. Its heavy atomic mass ensures the predictions are close to the actual value.
  4. Silver’s Thermal Analysis: The law assists in analyzing silver’s thermal properties. Consequently, it aids in predicting how the metal behaves in heat-sensitive applications.
  5. Lead’s Heat Prediction: The Dulong-Petit Law enables scientists to estimate lead’s specific heat. With its high atomic mass, the law holds true for this metal.


What is the Dulong-Petit law of metals?

It asserts that many metals have a molar heat capacity of approximately 25 J/molΒ·K, which simplifies predicting their thermal properties.

What is the Dulong-Petit law of cooling?

The law does not specifically relate to cooling; instead, it’s about predicting the molar heat capacity of solids based on their atomic structure.

Dulong’s formula not applicable for?

It is not applicable for elements with low atomic mass, low temperature ranges, or non-metallic solids where the specific heat deviates significantly.

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