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  • Understand cohesive and adhesive forces.
  • Define surface tension.
  • Understand capillary action.

Cohesion and adhesion in liquids

Children blow soap bubbles and play in the spray of a sprinkler on a hot summer day. (See [link] .) An underwater spider keeps his air supply in a shiny bubble he carries wrapped around him. A technician draws blood into a small-diameter tube just by touching it to a drop on a pricked finger. A premature infant struggles to inflate her lungs. What is the common thread? All these activities are dominated by the attractive forces between atoms and molecules in liquids—both within a liquid and between the liquid and its surroundings.

Attractive forces between molecules of the same type are called cohesive forces    . Liquids can, for example, be held in open containers because cohesive forces hold the molecules together. Attractive forces between molecules of different types are called adhesive forces    . Such forces cause liquid drops to cling to window panes, for example. In this section we examine effects directly attributable to cohesive and adhesive forces in liquids.

Cohesive forces

Attractive forces between molecules of the same type are called cohesive forces.

Adhesive forces

Attractive forces between molecules of different types are called adhesive forces.

The soap bubbles that the child blows into the air maintain their shape because of the attractive force between the molecules of the soap bubble.
The soap bubbles in this photograph are caused by cohesive forces among molecules in liquids. (credit: Steve Ford Elliott)

Surface tension

Cohesive forces between molecules cause the surface of a liquid to contract to the smallest possible surface area. This general effect is called surface tension    . Molecules on the surface are pulled inward by cohesive forces, reducing the surface area. Molecules inside the liquid experience zero net force, since they have neighbors on all sides.

Surface tension

Cohesive forces between molecules cause the surface of a liquid to contract to the smallest possible surface area. This general effect is called surface tension.

Making connections: surface tension

Forces between atoms and molecules underlie the macroscopic effect called surface tension. These attractive forces pull the molecules closer together and tend to minimize the surface area. This is another example of a submicroscopic explanation for a macroscopic phenomenon.

The model of a liquid surface acting like a stretched elastic sheet can effectively explain surface tension effects. For example, some insects can walk on water (as opposed to floating in it) as we would walk on a trampoline—they dent the surface as shown in [link] (a). [link] (b) shows another example, where a needle rests on a water surface. The iron needle cannot, and does not, float, because its density is greater than that of water. Rather, its weight is supported by forces in the stretched surface that try to make the surface smaller or flatter. If the needle were placed point down on the surface, its weight acting on a smaller area would break the surface, and it would sink.

A leg of an insect resting on the water surface is shown in the first figure. In the second figure an iron needle rests on the surface of water without sinking. Both are possible due to the tension on the surface of the liquid.
Surface tension supporting the weight of an insect and an iron needle, both of which rest on the surface without penetrating it. They are not floating; rather, they are supported by the surface of the liquid. (a) An insect leg dents the water surface. F ST is a restoring force (surface tension) parallel to the surface. (b) An iron needle similarly dents a water surface until the restoring force (surface tension) grows to equal its weight.

Questions & Answers

lExplain what happens to the energy carried by light that it is dimmed by passing it through two crossed polarizing filters.
Christoper Reply
When light is reflected at Brewster's angle from a smooth surface, it is 100% polarizedparallel to the surface. Part of the light will be refracted into the surface.
Ekram
What is specific heat capacity?
hamidat Reply
Specific heat capacity is the amount of heat required to raise the temperature of one (Kg) of a substance through one Kelvin
Paluutar
formula for measuring Joules
Rowshan Reply
I don't understand, do you mean the S.I unit of work and energy?
hamidat
what are the effects of electric current
ADAMS Reply
What limits the Magnification of an optical instrument?
Naeem Reply
Lithography is 2 micron
Venkateshwarlu
what is expression for energy possessed by water ripple
Prabesh Reply
what is hydrolic press
Mark Reply
An hydraulic press is a type of machine that is operated by different pressure of water on pistons.
hamidat
what is dimensional unite of mah
Patrock Reply
i want jamb related question on this asap🙏
sharon Reply
What is Boyles law
Pascal Reply
it can simple defined as constant temperature
Muhammad
Boyles law states that the volume of a fixed amount of a gas is inversely proportional to the pressure acting on in provided that the temperature is constant.that is V=k(1/p) or V=k/p
FADILAT
what is motion
Mua Reply
getting notifications for a dictionary word, smh
Anderson
what is escape velocity
Shuaibu Reply
the minimum thrust that an object must have in oder yo escape the gravitational pull
Joshua
what is a dimer
Mua
what is a atom
ADAMS
how to calculate tension
Deena Reply
what are the laws of motion
Mua
what is force
Ugwu Reply
Force is any quantity or a change that produces motion on an object body.
albert
A force is a push or a pull that has the tendency of changing a body's uniform state of rest or uniform state of motion in a straight line.
nicholas
plsoo give me the gravitational motion formulas
Okoye
f=Gm/d²
FADILAT
What is the meaning of emf
Chinedu Reply
electro magnetic force
shafiu
Electromotive force (emf) is a measurement of the energy that causes current to flow through a circuit.
Darssini
Practice Key Terms 5

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Source:  OpenStax, College physics. OpenStax CNX. Jul 27, 2015 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11406/1.9
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