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On our chemistry exam, a question asks "Which force is present between Fe particles? a) Van der Waals b) Metallic"

At first it seemed obvious that it was metallic; however, upon closer reading, it seemed like a trick question. First of all, there's no such thing as a metallic force. In addition, I'm not sure if Van der Waals forces exist for metallic bonds. If they do exist, then the answer was definitely "Van der Waals".

So my question is, would Van der Waals/London dispersion forces exist between particles of iron?

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1 Answer 1

If by "Fe particles" you mean distinct particles (as opposed to the atoms inside a continuous Fe crystal structure), then the answer would be VdW/London forces.

From wikipedia:

This is the only attractive intermolecular force present between neutral atoms

Which, in a way, can be applied to particles or particle surfaces as well, as long as they're not charged.

Whereas, if you are talking about a continuous iron crystal structure, and by particles you mean atoms within that structure, then you have a metal-type bond between them caused by delocalization of electrons into the conductive band. See wikipedia for further details.

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