IB Chemistry home > Syllabus 2016 > Structure and bonding > Physical properties

Syllabus ref: 4.4

The physical properties of substances are those characteristics that are not involved with chemical change, such as appearance, changes of state, conductivity, hardness, malleability, solubility etc.

In this chapter we focus on the most important physical properties and their relationship to the underlying structure of the compounds or elements.


Intermolecular forces include London (dispersion) forces, dipole-dipole forces and hydrogen bonding.

The relative strengths of these interactions are London (dispersion) forces < dipole-dipole forces < hydrogen bonds.

Applications and skills

Deduction of the types of intermolecular force present in substances, based on their structure and chemical formula

Explanation of the physical properties of covalent compounds (volatility, electrical conductivity and solubility) in terms of their structure and intermolecular forces.

In Chapter 2.7