Chapter 13 – Summary

13.1 – Intermolecular Forces

The physical properties of condensed matter (liquids and solids) can be explained in terms of the kinetic molecular theory. In a liquid, intermolecular attractive forces hold the molecules in contact, although they still have sufficient KE to move past each other.

Intermolecular attractive forces, collectively referred to as van der Waals forces, are responsible for the behaviour of liquids and solids and are electrostatic in nature. Dipole-dipole attractions result from the electrostatic attraction of the partial negative end of one dipolar molecule for the partial positive end of another. The temporary dipole that results from the motion of the electrons in an atom can induce a dipole in an adjacent atom and give rise to the London dispersion force. London forces increase with increasing molecular size. Hydrogen bonds are a special type of dipole-dipole attraction that results when hydrogen is bonded to one of the three most electronegative elements: F, O, or N.

13.2 – Properties of Liquids

The intermolecular forces between molecules in the liquid state vary depending upon their chemical identities and result in corresponding variations in various physical properties. Cohesive forces between like molecules are responsible for a liquid’s viscosity (resistance to flow) and surface tension (elasticity of a liquid surface). Adhesive forces between the molecules of a liquid and different molecules composing a surface in contact with the liquid are responsible for phenomena such as surface wetting and capillary rise.

13.3 – Phase Transitions

Phase transitions are processes that convert matter from one physical state into another. There are six phase transitions between the three phases of matter. Melting, vaporization, and sublimation are all endothermic processes, requiring an input of heat to overcome intermolecular attractions. The reciprocal transitions of freezing, condensation, and deposition are all exothermic processes, involving heat as intermolecular attractive forces are established or strengthened. The temperatures at which phase transitions occur are determined by the relative strengths of intermolecular attractions and are, therefore, dependent on the chemical identity of the substance.

13.4 – Phase Diagrams

The temperature and pressure conditions at which a substance exists in solid, liquid, and gaseous states are summarized in a phase diagram for that substance. Phase diagrams are combined plots of three pressure-temperature equilibrium curves: solid-liquid, liquid-gas, and solid-gas. These curves represent the relationships between phase-transition temperatures and pressures. The point of intersection of all three curves represents the substance’s triple point—the temperature and pressure at which all three phases are in equilibrium. At pressures below the triple point, a substance cannot exist in the liquid state, regardless of its temperature. The terminus of the liquid-gas curve represents the substance’s critical point, the pressure and temperature above which a liquid phase cannot exist.

13.5 – Water: A Special Liquid

Water has many unique properties that not only allow life on Earth to flourish, but make it the most common solvent used in chemistry labs. The polar nature of the water (H2O) molecule, as determined by VSEPR theory, impart these properties to water; for instance, solid H2O (ice) is less dense than liquid H2O, a rare property for a liquid to possess. As well, although it is a small molecule, water requires a relatively large amount of energy in order to change physical states.

Attribution & References

Except where otherwise noted, this page is adapted by Gregory A. Anderson from:


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Enhanced Introductory College Chemistry Copyright © 2023 by Gregory Anderson; Caryn Fahey; Jackie MacDonald; Adrienne Richards; Samantha Sullivan Sauer; J.R. van Haarlem; and David Wegman is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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