2016 March

Better adhesion than previously thought in van der Waals force

Friday, 18th March 2016Miscellaneous
Because they are describing the van der Waals force as an interaction between waves rather than between particles, researchers, including those at the Fritz Haber Institute, have established that the forces of attraction between uncharged atoms and molecules extend considerably further than was previously assumed. The understanding of the forces that operate between nanostructures like individual sheets of graphene, proteins and carbon nanotubes is thus changing. © Fritz-Haber-Institut der MPG

Because they are describing the van der Waals force as an interaction between waves rather than between particles, researchers, including those at the Fritz Haber Institute, have established that the forces of attraction between uncharged atoms and molecules extend considerably further than was previously assumed. The understanding of the forces that operate between nanostructures like individual sheets of graphene, proteins and carbon nanotubes is thus changing.
© Fritz-Haber-Institut der MPG

“The quantum mechanical description of the force between uncharged atoms and molecules demonstrated in real structures

They ensure that gases below a certain temperature condense into liquids. They give glue its adhesive force and enable geckos to hang upside down on a wall. The ‘they’ in question: van der Waals forces. Researchers at the Berlin-based Fritz Haber Institute of the Max Planck Society, together with colleagues in Italy and the USA, have succeeded in describing, more accurately than they were previously able to, the forces of attraction that operate between uncharged nanostructures. For the first time ever, they have successfully applied the concept to real molecular structures. The researchers can now envisage that practice-oriented material scientists, process designers and even drug researchers will one day benefit from the better understanding of van der Waals forces. It could, for example, then be possible to systematically modulate the forces.”

Go on to the full press release of the Max Planck Society.

Alberto Ambrosetti, Nicola Ferri, Robert A. DiStasio Jr. and Alexandre Tkatchenko
Wavelike Charge Density Fluctuations and van der Waals Interactions at the Nanoscale