Skip to content Skip to sidebar Skip to footer

Widget Atas Posting

Surface Tension

You must have noticed that, oil and water do not mix; water wets you and me but not ducks; mercury does not wet glass but water sticks to it, oil rises up a cotton wick, inspite of gravity, Sap and water rise up to the top of the leaves of the tree, hair of a paint brush do not cling together when dry and even when dipped in water but form a fine tip when taken out of it. All these and many more such experiences are related with the free surfaces of liquids. As liquids have no definite shape but have a definite volume, they acquire a free surface when poured in a container. These surfaces possess some additional energy. This phenomenon is known as surface tension and it is concerned with only liquid as gases do not have free surfaces. Let us now understand this phenomena.

Surface Energy

A liquid stays together because of attraction between molecules. Consider a molecule well inside a liquid. The intermolecular distances are such that it is attracted to all the surrounding molecules [Fig. 1(a)]. This attraction results in a negative potential energy for the molecule, which depends on the number and distribution of molecules around the chosen one. But the average potential energy of all the molecules is the same. This is supported by the fact that to take a collection of such molecules (the liquid) and to disperse them far away from each other in order to evaporate or vaporise, the heat of evaporation required is quite large. For water it is of the order of 40 kJ/mol.

Let us consider a molecule near the surface Fig. 1(b). Only lower half side of it is surrounded by liquid molecules. There is some negative potential energy due to these, but obviously it is less than that of a molecule in bulk, i.e., the one fully inside. Approximately it is half of the latter. Thus, molecules on a liquid surface have some extra energy in comparison to molecules in the interior. A liquid, thus, tends to have the least surface area which external conditions permit. Increasing surface area requires energy. Most surface phenomenon can be understood in terms of this fact. What is the energy required for having a molecule at the surface? As mentioned above, roughly it is half the energy required to remove it entirely from the liquid i.e., half the heat of evaporation.

Fig.1 Schematic picture of molecules in a liquid, at the surface and balance of forces. (a) Molecule inside a liquid. Forces on a molecule due to others are shown. Direction of arrows indicates attraction of repulsion. (b) Same, for a molecule at a surface. (c) Balance of attractive (AI and repulsive (R) forces.

Finally, what is a surface? Since a liquid consists of molecules moving about, there cannot be a perfectly sharp surface. The density of the liquid molecules drops rapidly to zero around z = 0 as we move along the direction indicated Fig 1 (c) in a distance of the order of a few molecular sizes.

Post a Comment for "Surface Tension"