Van der Waals force

residual attractive or repulsive forces between molecules or atomic groups that do not arise from a covalent bond, or ionic bonds

In chemistry, a van der Waals' force are a type of intermolecular force. An intermolecular force is a relatively weak force that holds molecules together. Van der Waals' forces are the weakest type of intermolecular force.[1][2] They are named after the Dutch scientist Johannes Diderik van der Waals (1837–1923).

Geckos can stick to walls and ceilings because of van der Waals forces.
A molecule with a difference in charge, from end to end

Negatively charged electrons orbit molecules or ions. The electrons create slightly different charges from one end of the molecule to the other. These slight differences are called partial charges, as δ- or δ+.

The term is sometimes used loosely as a synonym for all intermolecular forces. Van der Waals forces are relatively weak compared to covalent bonds, but play a fundamental role in supramolecular chemistry, enzymes, polymer science, nanotechnology, surface science, and condensed matter physics. Van der Waals forces define many properties of organic compounds, including their solubility.


  1. "intermolecular bonding - van der Waals forces".
  2. "Van der Waals Forces". Chemistry LibreTexts. 2 October 2013.