Mayer’s relation (Mayer’s law) is the relation between molar heat capacities at constant pressure C_{p} and at constant volume C_{V} for an ideal gas.

The figure below shows two **reversible processes (or transformations) of an ideal gas**. The process AB is **isochoric** (at constant volume) and the process AC is **isobaric** (at constant pressure). The temperature of the gas in state A is T_{1}. The states B and C lie on the same isotherm which corresponds to the temperature T_{2}; therefore, the gas reaches the same final temperature after the two processes.

Since the temperature increases for both processes (as T_{1} < T_{2}) a certain amount of heat will be absorbed by the gas.

Ad blocker detected

Knowledge is free, but servers are not. Please consider supporting us by disabling your ad blocker on YouPhysics. Thanks!

The heat exchanged in an **isochoric process** is given by:

Where C_{V} is the **molar heat capacity at constant volume**.

The heat exchanged in an **isobaric process** is given by:

Where C_{p} is the **molar heat capacity at constant pressure**.

Using statistical mechanics it can be proved that these heat capacities are:

Ideal gas | C_{V} |
C_{p} |
C_{p} – C_{V} |
γ = C_{p}/C_{V} |

Monoatomic |
(3/2) R | (5/2) R | R | 5/3 |

Diatomic |
(5/2) R | (7/2) R | R | 7/5 |

Where R is the **ideal gas constant** which in SI units is: R = 8.31 J/mol K.

You can see that the difference between heat capacities is R (the penultimate column in the previous table). This relationship is known as **Mayer’s relation (or Mayer’s law)**. In order to prove it, we will apply the differential form of the first law of Thermodynamics to the two processes represented in the PV diagram.

The work in the isochoric process AB is zero because there is no volume change.

Ad blocker detected

Knowledge is free, but servers are not. Please consider supporting us by disabling your ad blocker on YouPhysics. Thanks!

On the other hand, as the gas is ideal, its internal energy depends only on the temperature. Its variation is the same for the two processes because they both have the same initial and final temperatures. After equating and substituting heat and work we get:

Using the equation of state of an ideal gas to deduce the value of *pdV*, we get:

And by substituting in the previous expression, we get:

which proves the **Mayer’s relation**.

The C_{p}/C_{V} ratio that appears in the last column of the table is called the **heat capacity ratio or adiabatic index** γ. It appears in the equation that describes a reversible adiabatic process of an ideal gas.