One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
Weak, short-range electrostatic attractive forces between uncharged molecules, arising from the interaction of permanent or transient electric dipole moments.
- ‘As the molecules are pushed closer together, the effects of small forces, such as van der Waals forces, become apparent.’
- ‘The basic idea of the experiment is to suddenly neutralize the layer, so that the attractive van der Waals force will press the bead against the slide.’
- ‘The van der Waals force is long range, attractive, and relatively weak.’
- ‘The molecules in paraffin wax, on the other hand, are only held together by weak van der Waals forces.’
- ‘His team discovered that van der Waals force helps the gecko's feet stick.’
Late 19th century: named after Johannes van der Waals (1837–1923), Dutch physicist.
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