5.1 Intermolecular Forces

Intermolecular forces are the forces of attraction and repulsion between interacting particles (atoms and molecules). This term does not include the electrostatic forces that exist between the two oppositely charged ions and the forces that hold atoms of a molecule together i.e., covalent bonds.

Attractive intermolecular forces are known as van der Waals forces, in honour of Dutch scientist Johannes van der Waals (1837-1923), who explained the deviation of real gases from the ideal behaviour through these forces.

We will learn about this later in this unit. van der Waals forces vary considerably in magnitude and include dispersion forces or London forces, dipole-dipole forces, and dipole-induced dipole forces.

A particularly strong type of dipole-dipole interaction is hydrogen bonding. Only a few elements can participate in hydrogen bond formation, therefore it is treated as a separate category. We have already learnt about this interaction in Unit 4.

At this point, it is important to note that attractive forces between an ion and a dipole are known as ion-dipole forces and these are not van der Waals forces. We will now learn about different types of van der Waals forces.

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