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We can also liquefy many gases by compressing them, if the temperature is not too high. The increased pressure brings the molecules of a gas closer together, such that the attractions between the molecules become strong relative to their KE. Consequently, they form liquids. Butane, C 4 H 10 , is the fuel used in disposable lighters and is a gas at standard temperature and pressure. Inside the lighter’s fuel compartment, the butane is compressed to a pressure that results in its condensation to the liquid state, as shown in [link] .

A butane lighter is shown.
Gaseous butane is compressed within the storage compartment of a disposable lighter, resulting in its condensation to the liquid state. (credit: modification of work by “Sam-Cat”/Flickr)

Finally, if the temperature of a liquid becomes sufficiently low, or the pressure on the liquid becomes sufficiently high, the molecules of the liquid no longer have enough KE to overcome the IMF between them, and a solid forms. A more thorough discussion of these and other changes of state, or phase transitions, is provided in a later module of this chapter.

Forces between molecules

Under appropriate conditions, the attractions between all gas molecules will cause them to form liquids or solids. This is due to intermolecular forces, not intra molecular forces. Intra molecular forces are those within the molecule that keep the molecule together, for example, the bonds between the atoms. Inter molecular forces are the attractions between molecules, which determine many of the physical properties of a substance. [link] illustrates these different molecular forces. The strengths of these attractive forces vary widely, though usually the IMFs between small molecules are weak compared to the intramolecular forces that bond atoms together within a molecule. For example, to overcome the IMFs in one mole of liquid HCl and convert it into gaseous HCl requires only about 17 kilojoules. However, to break the covalent bonds between the hydrogen and chlorine atoms in one mole of HCl requires about 25 times more energy—430 kilojoules.

An image is shown in which two molecules composed of a green sphere labeled “C l” connected on the right to a white sphere labeled “H” are near one another with a dotted line labeled “Intermolecular force ( weak )” drawn between them. A line connects the two spheres in each molecule and the line is labeled “Intramolecular force ( strong ).”
Intra molecular forces keep a molecule intact. Inter molecular forces hold multiple molecules together and determine many of a substance’s properties.

All of the attractive forces between neutral atoms and molecules are known as van der Waals forces , although they are usually referred to more informally as intermolecular attraction. We will consider the various types of IMFs in the next three sections of this module.

Dispersion forces

One of the three van der Waals forces is present in all condensed phases, regardless of the nature of the atoms or molecules composing the substance. This attractive force is called the London dispersion force in honor of German-born American physicist Fritz London who, in 1928, first explained it. This force is often referred to as simply the dispersion force    . Because the electrons of an atom or molecule are in constant motion (or, alternatively, the electron’s location is subject to quantum-mechanical variability), at any moment in time, an atom or molecule can develop a temporary, instantaneous dipole    if its electrons are distributed asymmetrically. The presence of this dipole can, in turn, distort the electrons of a neighboring atom or molecule, producing an induced dipole    . These two rapidly fluctuating, temporary dipoles thus result in a relatively weak electrostatic attraction between the species—a so-called dispersion force like that illustrated in [link] .

Questions & Answers

definition of isomerism
Madam Reply
Compounds that have the same molecular formula, but different structural formula. Sent from Egypt
who is the father of chemistry
Naomi Reply
what is hybridization and bonding
Simon Reply
please who is the father of chemistry
Antoine Lavoisier
I recommend reading on Google.
Also, god has created everything
(Allah, the creator)
how to determine the empirical formula
Vickie Reply
what is neutralisation reaction
Ugbaje Reply
It is a reaction where an acid (aq) reacts with an alkali (aq) to form salt AND water.
What is the ratio of the average kinetic energy of a SO 2 molecule to that of an O 2 molecule in a mixture of two gases? What is the ratio of the root mean square speeds, u rms , of the two gases?
xMah_Bx Reply
what is methyl orange
Wisdom Reply
its an indicator
It is an organic molecule that reacts with acid/base medium and shows change in colour (due to formed products). It can be used to test for alcohols which are prohibited to drink in Islam as it is bad for brain and liver and immunity.
it is an indicator used to determine the end point in an acid-base titration
explain more about this topic
Ayomide Reply
Which topic please?
covalent bond explanation
God has lictured these rules that the electrons move with them and the space time curve. So we prwy to God in Islam or we suffer. Please learn about Islam and science and mention God and thank him.
yes, it is very true. God is the one who inspires science. Then we, as his children, have the privilege to learn about what he has created. I'm still a novis at chemistry. I still have a lot to learn.
Beautiful, however, what I learned from the Quran is that god has created human and has a mission like managing the ecology, building, learning, mentioning god (saying glory to Almighty for instance few times and periodic). And the moat important prayer lile prophet Muhammed the last meassenger.
Also God forgives all sins except assossiating any one with him like sons and daughters or stone sculpture. Beautifully, if some one stops from saying this God can switch their sins to virtueness. And God all merciful doesnt get bored forgiving people who ask for forgiveness.
Also, there is a versw in the Quran that sates: { corruption has appeared in the land and the sea he will taste them from what their hands have gained} this reminds me of covid from stupid politicians who will be throne to hell.
nature of bond in N2 molecule is
Ahmad Reply
Triple covalent bond, and that is why it is hardly reactive because in order to react you must break three strong covalent bonds.
what is electromagnetic energy
Onyekwu Reply
in a school of 120 students, 41studied mathematics, 48studied chemistry and 42 studied physics, 16 studied both chemistry and mathematics, 14 studied mathematics and physics, 18 studied chemistry and physics and 9 studied all the three subjects. how many of them studied exactly one subject?
Kafayat Reply
Does Chromium oxidize?
Jag Reply
@Alaa It doesn't.
yes. it's a very strong oxidizing agent
what is compound
Queen Reply
what are the types of hydrocarbon
Dolapo Reply
homologous series is under what
Don't get your Question.
OK Aliphatic and Aromatic.
Practice Key Terms 8

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Source:  OpenStax, Chemistry. OpenStax CNX. May 20, 2015 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11760/1.9
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