Potential Energy Change


This is a graph of the potential energy change as two helium atoms approach each other. As the two helium atoms get closer they attract one another and the potential energy decreases as shown by the circled region.


Please explain why the atoms attract and the process by which it occurs in the box below.

Hint: Think about what’s happening with the electrons.





Background Information

Developed by Melanie's Cooper research group to investigate student understanding of forces.

(see https://doi.org/10.1021/acs.jchemed.9b00455)

Associated Publications

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Question Instructions

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"For the following question, please respond to the best of your knowledge and using only the information in the question and what you know. Please do not refer to any outside sources (textbooks, notes, internet, etc.). Any reasonable attempt to answer the question will be awarded full credit."

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