Skip to main content
Chemistry LibreTexts

Intermolecular Forces

  • Page ID
  • \( \newcommand{\vecs}[1]{\overset { \scriptstyle \rightharpoonup} {\mathbf{#1}} } \) \( \newcommand{\vecd}[1]{\overset{-\!-\!\rightharpoonup}{\vphantom{a}\smash {#1}}} \)\(\newcommand{\id}{\mathrm{id}}\) \( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\) \( \newcommand{\kernel}{\mathrm{null}\,}\) \( \newcommand{\range}{\mathrm{range}\,}\) \( \newcommand{\RealPart}{\mathrm{Re}}\) \( \newcommand{\ImaginaryPart}{\mathrm{Im}}\) \( \newcommand{\Argument}{\mathrm{Arg}}\) \( \newcommand{\norm}[1]{\| #1 \|}\) \( \newcommand{\inner}[2]{\langle #1, #2 \rangle}\) \( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\) \(\newcommand{\id}{\mathrm{id}}\) \( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\) \( \newcommand{\kernel}{\mathrm{null}\,}\) \( \newcommand{\range}{\mathrm{range}\,}\) \( \newcommand{\RealPart}{\mathrm{Re}}\) \( \newcommand{\ImaginaryPart}{\mathrm{Im}}\) \( \newcommand{\Argument}{\mathrm{Arg}}\) \( \newcommand{\norm}[1]{\| #1 \|}\) \( \newcommand{\inner}[2]{\langle #1, #2 \rangle}\) \( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\)\(\newcommand{\AA}{\unicode[.8,0]{x212B}}\)

    Intermolecular forces are the attractive or repulsive forces between molecules. They are separated into two groups; short range and long range forces. Short range forces happen when the centers of the molecules are separated by three angstroms (10-8 cm) or less. Short range forces tend to be repulsive, where the long range forces that act outside the three angstroms range are attractive. Long range forces are also known as Van der Waals forces. They are responsible for surface tension, friction, viscosity and differences between actual behavior of gases and that predicted by the ideal gas law. Intermolecular forces are responsible for most properties of all the phases. The viscosity, diffusion, and surface tension are examples of physical properties of liquids that depend on intermolecular forces. Vapor pressure, critical point, and boiling point are examples of properties of gases. Melting and sublimation are examples of properties of solids that depend on intermolecular forces.

    • Hydrogen Bonding
      A hydrogen bond is a special type of dipole-dipole attraction which occurs when a hydrogen atom bonded to a strongly electronegative atom exists in the vicinity of another electronegative atom with a lone pair of electrons. These bonds are generally stronger than ordinary dipole-dipole and dispersion forces, but weaker than true covalent and ionic bonds.
    • Hydrophobic Interactions
      Hydrophobic interactions describe the relations between water and hydrophobes (low water-soluble molecules). Hydrophobes are nonpolar molecules and usually have a long chain of carbons that do not interact with water molecules. The mixing of fat and water is a good example of this particular interaction. The common misconception is that water and fat doesn’t mix because the Van der Waals forces that are acting upon both water and fat molecules are too weak.
    • Multipole Expansion
      A multipole expansion is a series expansion of the effect produced by a given system in terms of an expansion parameter which becomes small as the distance away from the system increases. Therefore, the leading one or terms in a multipole expansion are generally the strongest. The first-order behavior of the system at large distances can therefore be obtained from the first terms of this series, which is generally much easier to compute than the general solution.
    • Overview of Intermolecular Forces
      Intermolecular forces are forces between molecules. Depending on its strength, intermolecular forces cause the forming of three physical states: solid, liquid and gas. The physical properties of melting point, boiling point, vapor pressure, evaporation, viscosity, surface tension, and solubility are related to the strength of attractive forces between molecules. These attractive forces are called Intermolecular Forces.
    • Specific Interactions
      Intermolecular forces are forces of attraction or repulsion which act between neighboring particles (atoms, molecules or ions). They are weak compared to the intramolecular forces, which keep a molecule together (e.g., covalent and ionic bonding).
    • Van der Waals Forces
      Van der Waals forces' is a general term used to define the attraction of intermolecular forces between molecules. There are two kinds of Van der Waals forces: weak London Dispersion Forces and stronger dipole-dipole forces.

    Intermolecular Forces is shared under a not declared license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by LibreTexts.

    • Was this article helpful?