Intermolecular force

An intermolecular force (IMF) (or secondary force) is the force that mediates interaction between molecules, including the electromagnetic forces of attraction or repulsion which act between atoms and other types of neighboring particles, e.g. atoms or ions. Intermolecular forces are weak relative to intramolecular forces – the forces which hold a molecule together. For example, the covalent bond, involving sharing electron pairs between atoms, is much stronger than the forces present between neighboring molecules. Both sets of forces are essential parts of force fields frequently used in molecular mechanics.

The investigation of intermolecular forces starts from macroscopic observations which indicate the existence and action of forces at a molecular level. These observations include non-ideal-gas thermodynamic behavior reflected by virial coefficients, vapor pressure, viscosity, superficial tension, and absorption data.

The first reference to the nature of microscopic forces is found in Alexis Clairaut's work Théorie de la figure de la Terre, published in Paris in 1743.[1] Other scientists who have contributed to the investigation of microscopic forces include: Laplace, Gauss, Maxwell and Boltzmann.

Attractive intermolecular forces are categorized into the following types:

Information on intermolecular forces is obtained by macroscopic measurements of properties like viscosity, pressure, volume, temperature (PVT) data. The link to microscopic aspects is given by virial coefficients and Lennard-Jones potentials.


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