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3: Surface Tension

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    • 3.1: What is surface tension?
      Surface tension is the energy, or work, required to increase the surface area of a liquid due to intermolecular forces. Since these intermolecular forces vary depending on the nature of the liquid (e.g. water vs. gasoline) or solutes in the liquid (e.g. surfactants like detergent), each solution exhibits differing surface tension properties.
    • 3.2: Cohesive and Adhesive Forces
      Cohesive and adhesive forces are associated with bulk (or macroscopic) properties and hence the terms are not applicable to discussion of atomic and molecular properties. When a liquid comes into contact with a surface (such as the walls of a graduated cylinder or a tabletop), both cohesive and adhesive forces will act on it. These forces govern the shape which the liquid takes on.
    • 3.3: Contact Angles
      Contact angle is one of the common ways to measure the wettability of a surface or material. Wetting refers to the study of how a liquid deposited on a solid (or liquid) substrate spreads out or the ability of liquids to form boundary surfaces with solid states. The wetting, as mentioned before is determined by measuring the contact angle, which the liquid forms in contact with the solids or liquids. The wetting tendency is larger, the smaller the contact angle or the surface tension is.
    • 3.4: Capillary Action
      Capillary action can be defined as the ascension of liquids through slim tube, cylinder or permeable substance due to adhesive and cohesive forces interacting between the liquid and the surface. When intermolecular bonding of a liquid itself is substantially inferior to a substances’ surface it is interacting, capillarity occurs. Also, the diameter of the container as well as the gravitational forces will determine amount of liquid raised.

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