The Hamaker constant A can be defined for a Van der Waals (VdW) body–body interaction:
The Hamaker constant provides the means to determine the interaction parameter C from the Van der Waals pair potential, .
Hamaker's method and the associated Hamaker constant ignores the influence of an intervening medium between the two particles of interaction. In the 1950s Lifshitz developed a description of the VdW energy but with consideration of the dielectric properties of this intervening medium (often a continuous phase).
The Van der Waals forces are effective only up to several hundred angstroms. When the interactions are too far apart, the dispersion potential decays faster than ; this is called the retarded regime, and the result is a Casimir–Polder force.
- Hamaker, H. C. (1937). "The London – van der Waals attraction between spherical particles". Physica. 4 (10): 1058–1072. doi:10.1016/S0031-8914(37)80203-7.
- Seung-woo Lee and Wolfgang M. Sigmund (23 May 2002). "AFM study of repulsive Van der Waals forces between Teflon AF thin film and silica or alumina". Colloids and Surfaces A: Physicochemical and Engineering Aspects. 204 (1–3): 43-50. doi:10.1016/S0927-7757(01)01118-9.
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