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Polar Molecules

Structure of and factors that contribute to dipoles within molecules

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Spider Webs and Dipole-Dipole Forces

The Strength of a Spider Web

Recall that dipoles are the separation of charges between two bonded atoms with large differences in electronegativity. This difference in electronegativity causes the more electronegative atom to gain more electrons, and become slightly negative. The other atom loses electrons and becomes slightly positive, thus forming a dipole. The interactions between dipoles, whose charged ends are attracted to the oppositely charged ends of other dipoles on other molecules, are called dipole-dipole interactions.

Credit: User: Man-ucommons
Source: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Spinnennetzpd.jpg
License: CC BY-NC 3.0

The spider waits on its web, waiting for its prey. [Figure1]

The fibers in the spider web are composed of large protein molecules, which stick together through strong dipole-dipole attractions. One negatively charged end of one protein is attracted to one positively charged end of another protein, causing the two proteins to tightly stick together. The millions of interconnected proteins are what make the spider's web so strong.

Creative Applications

1. What gives the web it’s strength and ability to maintain the spider’s weight?

2. What makes a spider's web adhesive? (Use the resources provided to find out why)

3. If a spider web was bonded by Van Der Waals forces, how would it be different? How would it look?

Web Resources


Image Attributions

  1. [1]^ Credit: User: Man-ucommons; Source: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Spinnennetzpd.jpg; License: CC BY-NC 3.0

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