Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock ( ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Introduction to the Special Issue on Biothermodynamics



Robert N. Goldberg


In its broadest sense, biothermodynamics encompasses all thermochemical and thermophysical property measurements and calculations on biochemical and biological systems. This makes for an extremely broad field given the large number of properties and the wide variety of biochemical systems, which range from relatively small molecules and simple reactions to macromolecules, cells, and living organisms. Certain methods have been of both historic and continuing importance. These includecombustion, heat-capacity, and solution calorimetry, electrochemistry, microcalorimetry, isothermal titration calorimetry, differential scanning calorimetry, and equilibrium, density, and speed of sound measurements. While research in these areas has, in many cases, been made somewhat easier by the development of sophisticated, computer controlled instrumentation, there is still a great need for careful experimental design, implementation, and analysis – items that cannot yet be done by computers. But in addition to measurement, there is a critical, continuing need for data collection, data evaluation, and the development of empirical estimation methods such as the Benson and other related approaches. The fact that the Gibbs energy, enthalpy, and entropy are state functions enables the calculation of many thermodynamic properties for substances where direct measurements have not been performed. Thus, the possibility exists for the construction of comprehensive tables of thermodynamic properties of biochemical substances. Also, improvements in computational chemistry have made it possible to obtain accurate thermodynamic property values for small molecules in the gas phase. There is now the likely possibility that the same can be done for small molecules in water. With further progress and the utilization of existing information and methods, biothermodynamics will continue to play an important role in applied areas such as bioprocess engineering, drug development, and etc.
Journal of Chemical Thermodynamics


biochemical thermodynamics, calorimetry, enthalpy, entropy, Gibbs energy


Goldberg, R. (2012), Introduction to the Special Issue on Biothermodynamics, Journal of Chemical Thermodynamics (Accessed April 24, 2024)
Created May 14, 2012, Updated February 19, 2017