Types of Van Der Waals Forces

A Guide to the Types of Van Der Waals Forces

Van Der Waals forces are the interactions between atoms and molecules that result in a pull between them. These forces comprise of weak intermolecular interacting with each the nearest possible distance. The molecules do not contain any charge.

These interactions or bonds comprise of three types, such as dipole-dipole, hydrogen bonds and London dispersion forces. Their formation depends on the type of bonding between molecules.

The concept of Waals’ interactions is vast. It requires a deeper understanding of the properties and types to score better! So, go through the below pointers to get a hold of Van Der Waals interactions.

Let’s start!

Types of Van Der Waals Bonding

The Waals’s interactions depend on three types of forces, such as London forces, dipole-dipole and hydrogen bonding. They are based on the type of bonding they share within molecules or atoms. These include:

  • Dipole-Dipole Interactions: These bonds lead to the formation of attractive forces present in the two polar molecules having constant dipoles. These dipoles occur when atoms present close to each other contain an electronegative effect. Its occurrence results from the interaction of a molecule’s negative portion with the positive part of the other molecule. 

The dipoles having opposite charges form a firm bonding among them as they attract each other with stronger forces. A molecular dipole forms when electrons share an unequal distribution within themselves. 

Hydrogen chloride (HCl) is an appropriate example of Van Der Waals forces containing dipole-dipole interactions as it contains both positive and negative ends attracting with others. Moreover, a molecule of HCl comprises of a permanent dipole as the chlorine atom present in it is more electronegative than the hydrogen one.


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  • London Dispersion Forces: These interactions share the weakest type of bonding among the three types of Waals forces. Their attractions arise from the short-term and induced dipoles available in most molecules and atoms. The dispersion forces are also responsible for creating dipole-induced dipole bonds.

These bonds occur when electrons available within two adjoining atoms take interim positions. They are also accountable for condensation of non-polar materials into liquids, and freezing of solid when the temperature drops. Mostly, these interactions depend on the molecules’ ability to polarise. 

These weakest intermolecular forces also occur within two or more molecules when the polar ones get situated nearby. Their strength varies along with the number of electrons occurring in a molecule. Mostly, these interactions occur due to the motion of these electrons.


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  • Hydrogen Bonding: These forces occur from a unique type of dipole-dipole interactions inside two or more hydrogen atoms. Their attractions are relatively much stronger than London dispersion forces and dipole-dipole interactions. The attractions between hydrogen bonds occur because of the strong forces between a hydrogen atom.

These atoms share a covalent type of bonding between two highly electronegative atoms, such as Oxygen, Nitrogen and Fluorine, etc. The hydrogen molecules form stronger bonds by getting attracted to O, F and N atoms, but only these atoms can form bonds with hydrogen atoms. The strength of a hydrogen bond varies between 4 kJ/mol and 50 kJ/mol. 

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Did you know: Interaction between water molecules is an appropriate example of Hydrogen bonding of Van Der Waals forces!

Pop Quiz 1

Solve the below question to brush up your skills!

  1. Under what circumstances, does a real gas work closely in the ideal gas equation of Vander wall forces?


  1. There are less pressure and higher temperature.

  2. Both pressure and temperature are high.

  3. Pressure appears higher, and the temperature is low.

  4. Both pressure and temperature are low.

  5. None of the above.

Van Der Waals Equation

While learning about the Van Der Waals forces, it is essential to know regarding its equation. The Waals equation depicts the characteristics of two real gases. It studies the excluded volume of these gases and its intensity of attraction occurring between them. 

It gets elucidated as:

(P+n2a/V2) (V-nb)= nRT

Where a = intensity of attraction between two or more molecules or atoms.

And b = excluded volume of real gases.

Activity: Find how molecular shape plays a vital role in impacting the strength of dispersion forces? Take expert’s guidance if necessary.

Components of Waals Interactions

The Van Der Waals forces appear as an interaction in a closely-situated position of the molecules or atoms. These forces depend on the attractions or repulsions within two or more molecules. The bonds get firmer when they occur with a short distance from 0.4 kilojoules per mole (kJ/mol) to 4 kJ/mol. 

However, their pull tend to repel when situated at a distance less or within 0.4 nanometers (nm). Mostly, they appear to be highly active when they get situated at a space of less than 0.6 nanometers. 

Try reading the below pointers to gain knowledge about the components of Van Der Waals bonding. They are as follows:

  • These bonds contain negative components that prohibit molecules from collapsing with each other. It is due to the Pauli Exclusion Principle.

  • The Keesom force is another key contributor to Waals interactions. There exists either repulsion or attractive interaction between dipoles, multi-poles, quadrupoles or constant charges due to the Keesom.

  • London dispersion force form a vital component of the Waals bond. It arises due to the interaction between non-polar or polar molecules. 

  • Debye force also acts as a key contributor in the Waals forces. It is accountable for the occurrence of attractions between molecules containing an induced and permanent polarity. 

Pop Quiz 2

Brace your learning skills by solving the below quiz.

  1. What does the word ‘b’ represent in the equation of Van Der Waals bond? 


  1. The excluded volume of real gases.

  2. The volume of an empty container.

  3. The number of gas molecules.

  4. A container’s volume filled with gas.

  5. None of the above.

Properties of Van Der Waals Bonding

Read the characteristics of Waals forces to know more of them in detail!

  • These interactions contain comparatively weaker, electric bonds compared to the ionic, covalent or metallic interactions.

  • These attractions or forces remain completely unaffected by the change in temperature apart from dipole-dipole interactions.

  • The attractions become addictive as it contains a huge number of molecules available with them. They are still present when the molecules get placed at a long distance.

  • These weak bonds are present in almost all types of materials. However, primary bonds often overpower their effects as they are relatively weaker in comparison to them.

  • The Waals interactions are universal, and they are accountable for the attraction of atoms or molecules within themselves.

  • These intermolecular bonds work with a short-range. Hence, the interactions occur when the particles get closely situated with each other. The pace of attraction is greater when the molecules or atoms get closer to each other.

  • Additionally, these intermolecular forces do not have the capability of saturation.

  • Moreover, these interactions do not posses any directional attributes.

Activity: Study the applications of these bonds in detail and try to find some suitable Van Der Waals forces examples. Take the help of your friends or teachers for additional guidance.

Interesting Facts about Waals Forces

  • The Waals forces are the weakest intermolecular interactions.

  • These bonds derive its name from a Dutch Scientist known as Johannes Diderik Van Der Waals. He found the existence of these forces while understanding the theory of a real gas in 1873.

  • The forces working between two dipoles are known as Keesom. It derives its name from William Hendrik Keesom.

  • The attractions operating between a molecule containing charge and a dipole is known as Debye. It derives its name after Peter Debye.

  • The Van Der Waals equation studies the properties of two gases.

  • The word ‘a’ in the Waals equation shows the intensity of attraction among molecules or atoms.

  • The firmness of a hydrogen bond varies from 4 kJ/mol to 50 kJ/mol.

  • Only Nitrogen, Oxygen and Fluorine atoms in a single molecule can form hydrogen bonding.

  • The interactions between two polarised particles are known as London forces. They derive their name after Fritz London. 

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FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. What are the types of Van Der Waals bonding?

Ans. The Waals bonds are mainly of three types, such as hydrogen bonding, dipole-dipole interactions and dispersion forces.

2. What is the difference between Waals bonds and covalent bonds?

Ans. The Waals interactions are different from the covalent bonds as they occur from correlation with changing polarisations of particles situated nearby.

3. What do you understand by Van Der Waals bonding?

Ans. The Waals forces are the interactions occurring between two or more molecules or atoms due to their attraction. These weak forces attract neutral molecules with the other ones in gases.

4. What the weakest type of interactions among Waals forces?

Ans. London dispersion forces have the weakest type of interactions among all the three types of Waal’s forces.