A weak attractive force between atoms or nonpolar molecules caused by a temporary change in dipole moment arising from a brief shift of orbital electrons to one side of one atom or molecule, creating a similar shift in adjacent atoms or molecules.
A weak force of attraction between electrically neutral molecules that collide with or pass very close to each other. The van der Waals force is caused by the attraction between electron-rich regions of one molecule and electron-poor regions of another (the attraction between the molecules seen as electric dipoles). The attraction is much weaker than a chemical bond. Van der Waals forces are the intermolecular forces that cause molecules to cohere in liquid and solid states of matter, and are responsible for surface tension and capillary action.
Origin of van-der-waals-force
- After Johannes Diderik van der Waals
From American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition