Vander Wall's Interaction

Van der Waals interactions, often referred to as van der Waals forces, are a type of weak, non-covalent interaction that occurs between atoms and molecules. These forces play a crucial role in the behaviour of gases, liquids, and solids. They are named after the Dutch scientist Johannes Diderik van der Waals, who made significant contributions to our understanding of these interactions in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Van der Waals interactions encompass three primary types of forces:

  1. London Dispersion Forces (Dispersion Forces or Induced Dipole Forces): These forces are the most ubiquitous and the weakest of the van der Waals interactions. They arise from temporary fluctuations in electron distribution around an atom or molecule, creating instantaneous or temporary dipoles. These temporary dipoles induce corresponding temporary dipoles in nearby atoms or molecules. The resulting attraction between the induced dipoles is the London dispersion force. London dispersion forces increase with the size and shape of the electron cloud.

  2. Dipole-Dipole Interactions: In molecules that have permanent dipoles, such as polar molecules, there are electrostatic interactions between the positive end of one molecule and the negative end of another. These interactions are referred to as dipole-dipole interactions and are stronger than London dispersion forces. They play a significant role in determining the physical properties of polar substances.

  3. Hydrogen Bonds: Hydrogen bonding is a special type of dipole-dipole interaction that occurs when a hydrogen atom is bonded to a highly electronegative atom (such as nitrogen, oxygen, or fluorine) and is attracted to another electronegative atom. Hydrogen bonds are stronger than typical dipole-dipole interactions and are responsible for many unique properties of compounds, including the high boiling point of water and the structure of biological macromolecules like DNA and proteins.

Van der Waals interactions are essential in various scientific disciplines and everyday life:

  • In chemistry, these interactions help explain the behaviour of gases and the condensation of gases into liquids.

  • In biology, they play a crucial role in protein folding, molecular recognition, and the structure of biological membranes.

  • In materials science, they influence the properties of materials, such as the adhesion of adhesive materials and the behaviour of nanoparticles.

  • In surface science, they are important in understanding the properties of surfaces, such as surface tension and wetting behaviour.

  • In intermolecular and interatomic interactions, van der Waals forces contribute to the stability of chemical compounds and the formation of molecular aggregates.

Overall, van der Waals interactions are a fundamental aspect of molecular interactions, and understanding them is essential in various scientific fields and technological applications.

We consider two hydrogen atoms. The points A and B represent the position of the nuclei.

We fix the origin of the system of coordinates At A.

Hamiltonian operator

The item containing 1/ R³ represents dipole dipole interaction and term containing 1/R^4 represents dipole quadrapole interaction. Here the dipole dipole interaction is most dominant term so we ignore other terms.

The eigen function and eigen values of Ho are known. For ground state

The first order correction to energy

Since the integral in this term is odd function in each integral each term equals to zero. So

So Vander wall interaction is attractive. These interactions are responsible for the attraction between particles that do not have strong covalent or ionic bonds. Van der Waals forces encompass three main types of attractive forces: London dispersion forces (induced dipole forces), dipole-dipole interactions, and hydrogen bonds.

Van der Waals interactions, also known as van der Waals forces, play a critical role in various aspects of chemistry, physics, and biology. Their importance lies in the following key areas:

  1. Stability of Matter: Van der Waals interactions are responsible for the attraction between atoms and molecules, even when they are not involved in strong covalent or ionic bonds. These forces help hold molecules together and contribute to the overall stability of matter.

  2. Properties of Gases and Liquids: In the gas phase, van der Waals interactions influence the behavior of real gases, including their deviations from ideal gas behavior. In the liquid phase, these forces contribute to properties such as surface tension, viscosity, and boiling and melting points.

  3. Solubility and Phase Transitions: Van der Waals forces are critical in determining the solubility of substances in solvents. They affect phase transitions, such as the condensation of gases into liquids and the freezing of liquids into solids.

  4. Molecular Aggregation: Van der Waals interactions play a significant role in the aggregation of molecules, leading to the formation of liquid crystals, micelles, and other self-assembled structures. These phenomena are important in materials science and biochemistry.

  5. Protein Folding and Biological Interactions: In biochemistry, van der Waals forces are essential for protein folding, molecular recognition, and the interactions between biomolecules. The three-dimensional structures of biomolecules are influenced by these attractive forces.

  6. Adhesion and Capillary Action: In everyday life, van der Waals forces are responsible for adhesion, enabling materials to stick together. Capillary action, where liquids move up narrow tubes, is also due to the combination of cohesive and adhesive van der Waals forces.

  7. Surface Science: Understanding van der Waals interactions is crucial in surface science, where they influence phenomena such as wetting behaviour, adhesion of coatings and paints, and the behaviour of nanoparticles and colloids.

  8. Nanotechnology and Material Design: In nanotechnology, van der Waals forces are important for the assembly of nanomaterials and the design of nanoscale devices. Researchers can harness these forces to create novel materials with unique properties.

  9. Intermolecular and Interatomic Interactions: Van der Waals forces are vital for understanding the stability of chemical compounds and predicting their properties. They are essential in molecular modeling and computational chemistry.

  10. Drug Design: In pharmaceutical research, a thorough understanding of van der Waals interactions is crucial for designing drug molecules that interact with biological targets effectively.

  11. Surface Chemistry: Van der Waals forces are central to surface chemistry, influencing the adsorption of molecules on surfaces and catalytic reactions on solid catalysts.

In summary, the importance of van der Waals interactions cannot be overstated. They are fundamental to our understanding of molecular and material behaviour in a wide range of scientific and technological applications, and they are essential for explaining and predicting the properties of matter.

This note is a part of the Physics Repository.