Three Intermolecular Potential Models

Initializing live version
Download to Desktop

Requires a Wolfram Notebook System

Interact on desktop, mobile and cloud with the free Wolfram Player or other Wolfram Language products.

This Demonstration considers three models for intermolecular potentials: square-well, Sutherland, and Lennard-Jones. Potentials for molecule (blue), molecule (green), and an mixture (orange) are shown. Use a slider to vary the binary interaction parameter , which represents how non-ideal the mixture is ( for the ideal case). The attractive-strength ratio represents the relative well depths of to . The diameter ratio represents the relative sizes of the molecules. The relative width is the ratio of attractive diameter to the repulsive diameter.

Contributed by: Megan E. Maguire and Rachael L. Baumann (December 2013)
Additional contributions by: John L. Falconer and Nick Bongiardina
(University of Colorado Boulder, Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering)
Open content licensed under CC BY-NC-SA



The square-well potential is:

The Sutherland potential is:

The Lennard–Jones potential is:

where is the intermolecular potential, is the distance between the molecule centers, is the molecular diameter, is the depth of the potential well, and is the well width for square-well potential.

The attractive strength parameter of the mixture is given by:


where is the binary interaction parameter, and and are the attractive strength parameters for molecules and .

A larger negative number for the binary interaction parameter represents stronger interactions between and relative to those between and or and . Analogously, a smaller positive number represents weaker interactions.

The molecular diameter parameter for the mixture is:


where and are the diameter parameters for molecules and .

A screencast video at [1] shows how to use this Demonstration.


[1] Three Intermolecular Potential Models.

Feedback (field required)
Email (field required) Name
Occupation Organization
Note: Your message & contact information may be shared with the author of any specific Demonstration for which you give feedback.