Real Gases and the van der Waals’ Interaction

Gases which don’t fit neatly into the constraints of the ideal gas law are called real gases. In order to predict the behaviour of real gases one must take into account the variation in pressure, compressibility, heat capacity, non-equilibrium thermodynamic effects, and van der Waals forces.

Named after Dutch scientist Johannes Diderik van der Waals, the van der Waals force is the sum of attractive or repulsive forces between molecules. The relatively weak force is formed between atoms or molecules and caused by a temporary change in dipole moment. It is also sometimes known as van der Waals’ interaction.

Lee is a freelance writer with a keen interest in history and science.