he following forces play an important role in the interaction of colloid particles:
- Excluded volume repulsion: This refers to the impossibility of any overlap between hard particles.
- Electrostatic interaction: Colloidal particles often carry an electrical charge and therefore attract or repel each other. The charge of both the continuous and the dispersed phase, as well as the mobility of the phases are factors affecting this interaction.
- van der Waals forces: This is due to interaction between two dipoles that are either permanent or induced. Even if the particles do not have a permanent dipole, fluctuations of the electron density gives rise to a temporary dipole in a particle. This temporary dipole induces a dipole in particles nearby. The temporary dipole and the induced dipoles are then attracted to each other. This is known as van der Waals force, and is always present (unless the refractive indexes of the dispersed and continuous phases are matched), is short-range, and is attractive.
- Entropic forces: According to the second law of thermodynamics, a system progresses to a state in which entropy is maximized. This can result in effective forces even between hard spheres[how?].
- Steric forces between polymer-covered surfaces or in solutions containing non-adsorbing polymer can modulate interparticle forces, producing an additional steric repulsive force (which is predominantly entropic in origin) or an attractive depletion force between them. Such an effect is specifically searched for with tailor-made superplasticizers developed to increase the workability of concrete and to reduce its water content.