So in class we have learned London dispersion, dipole-dipole, ion-dipole and hydrogen bonding for intermolecular forces. Our teacher always uses covalent molecules as examples. So I was wondering which intermolecular forces ionic bonds have, if so, how are they formed?

  • $\begingroup$ Ionic bonds are the product of Coulombic interactions within the ionic compound. Intermolecular forces means 'between molecules' and (unfortunately), in this case, extends to ion/dipoles. $\endgroup$ Oct 7, 2015 at 21:23
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ It would be only natural to continue the series "dipole-dipole, ion-dipole" with ion-ion interaction, which is precisely the same as ionic bond. $\endgroup$ Oct 7, 2015 at 21:25

2 Answers 2


Ions in ionic compounds are held together by electrostatic attractions, i.e. the idea that "opposite charges attract".

The strength of an electrostatic attraction is given by Coulomb's law:

$$F = \frac{1}{4\pi\varepsilon_0}\frac{q_1q_2}{r^2}$$

where $q_1$ and $q_2$ are the charges on the two ions and $r$ is the distance between them. In a completely ionic bond, $q_1$ and $q_2$ are multiples of the elementary charge, $e = 1.602 \times 10^{-19} \text{ C}$; however, no bond is completely ionic.

  • $\begingroup$ But this doesn't answer the question..... $\endgroup$
    – Peter Zhu
    Oct 7, 2015 at 22:07
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ My first sentence answers your question. I just decided to expand a bit. The fact that opposite charges attract is a consequence of the electromagnetic force, one of the four fundamental interactions of the universe. $\endgroup$ Oct 7, 2015 at 22:44
  • $\begingroup$ So do ionic molecules have intermolecular forces? $\endgroup$
    – Peter Zhu
    Oct 8, 2015 at 0:28
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ I would not say so. Ionic compounds do not exist as discrete molecules anyway, so the term intermolecular loses a bit of its appropriateness. If you talk about a single "molecule" of NaCl, then it should be an intramolecular force because these forces are what hold the constituent ions together. This is why textbooks will never write about the "intermolecular forces in ionic compounds". They will write: ionic compounds are a giant lattice of ions held together by electrostatic attraction. $\endgroup$ Oct 8, 2015 at 7:07

To me ionic bonding stand alone from both intramolecular force and intermolecular force. As it is a not interaction involving any molecules/atoms. Other forces such as ion-permanent dipole and ion-induced dipole would be intermolecular force, because those forces involved molecules. Although the fact is that all those 3 kind of bonds involving electrostatic force/electromagnetic force(force between charge particle/poles). It’s just generally ionic bonding stronger than ion-permanent dipole interaction, and ion-permanent dipole interaction stronger than ion-induced dipole interaction.


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge that you have read and understand our privacy policy and code of conduct.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.