Van Der Waals Interactions Flashcards, test questions and answers
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What is Van Der Waals Interactions?
Van der Waals interactions are an important part of chemistry and physics. They describe the attractive or repulsive forces between molecules that occur due to the temporary dipole moments created by the uneven distribution of electrons within a molecule. These forces can influence the structure and behavior of many biological systems, including proteins, DNA, cells, membranes, and other macromolecules. Van der Waals forces arise from three distinct sources: London dispersion forces (induced dipoles), electrostatic interactions (permanent dipoles) and hydrogen-bonding interactions (hydrogen bonds). The London dispersion force occurs when temporary dipoles form in nonpolar molecules as a result of their instantaneous electron distributions. The strength of these attractions increases with increasing molecular weight and is strongest for larger molecules such as those found in biological systems. Electrostatic interactions involve permanent electric charges or electrical dipoles which attract each other if they have opposite charges and repel if they have like charges. Hydrogen bonds are strong covalent bond-like attractions between two atoms held together by shared electrons but mediated by hydrogen bonding partners such as oxygen or nitrogen atoms.In addition to influencing intermolecular attraction/repulsion, Van der Waals forces also play an important role in determining protein structure through stabilizing hydrophobic clusters formed between nonpolar side chains on amino acid residues along a protein’s backbone chain. By providing greater stability to such hydrophobic regions, Van der Waals forces help maintain a protein’s 3D conformation essential for its proper function in vivo. Furthermore, when proteins interact with other proteins or ligands in solution or during signal transduction processes at cell surfaces, Van der Waals interactions have been shown to be significant contributors toward favorable binding energies responsible for successful complex formation leading to productive biological outcomes.