Researchers refute textbook knowledge in molecular interactions

phys.org | 6/29/2017 | Staff
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Van der Waals interactions between molecules are among the most important forces in biology, physics, and chemistry, as they determine the properties and physical behavior of many materials. For a long time, it was considered that these interactions between molecules are always attractive. Now, for the first time, Mainak Sadhukhan and Alexandre Tkatchenko from the Physics and Materials Science Research Unit at the University of Luxembourg found that in many rather common situations in nature the van der Waals force between two molecules becomes repulsive. This might lead to a paradigm shift in molecular interactions.

"The textbooks so far assumed that the forces are solely attractive. For us, the interesting question is whether you can also make them repulsive," Prof Tkatchenko explains. "Until recently, there was no evidence in scientific literature that van der Waals forces could also be repelling." Now, the researchers have shown in their paper, published in the renowned scientific journal Physical Review Letters, that the forces are, in fact, repulsive when they take place under confinement.

Van - Der - Waals - Force - Physicist

The ubiquitous van der Waals force was first explained by the German-American physicist Fritz London in 1930. Using quantum mechanics, he proved the purely attractive nature of the van der Waals force for any two molecules interacting in...
(Excerpt) Read more at: phys.org
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