[en] Recent experiments on noncovalent interactions at the nanoscale have challenged the basic assumptions of commonly used particle- or fragment-based models for describing van der Waals (vdW) or dispersion forces. We demonstrate that a qualitatively correct description of the vdW interactions between polarizable nanostructures over a wide range of finite distances can only be attained by accounting for the wavelike nature of charge density fluctuations. By considering a diverse set of materials and biological systems with markedly different dimensionalities, topologies, and polarizabilities, we find a visible enhancement in the nonlocality of the charge density response in the range of 10 to 20 nanometers. These collective wavelike fluctuations are responsible for the emergence of nontrivial modifications of the power laws that govern noncovalent interactions at the nanoscale.
Physical, chemical, mathematical & earth Sciences: Multidisciplinary, general & others