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How does sap get to the tops of tall trees? (Recall that a column of water can only rise to a height of 10 m when there is a vacuum at the top—see [link] .) The question has not been completely resolved, but it appears that it is pulled up like a chain held together by cohesive forces. As each molecule of sap enters a leaf and evaporates (a process called transpiration), the entire chain is pulled up a notch. So a negative pressure created by water evaporation must be present to pull the sap up through the xylem vessels. In most situations, fluids can push but can exert only negligible pull , because the cohesive forces seem to be too small to hold the molecules tightly together. But in this case, the cohesive force of water molecules provides a very strong pull. [link] shows one device for studying negative pressure. Some experiments have demonstrated that negative pressures sufficient to pull sap to the tops of the tallest trees can be achieved.

When the piston is raised the liquid stretches somewhat, which results in negative pressure.
(a) When the piston is raised, it stretches the liquid slightly, putting it under tension and creating a negative absolute pressure P = F / A size 12{P= - F/A} {} . (b) The liquid eventually separates, giving an experimental limit to negative pressure in this liquid.

Section summary

  • Attractive forces between molecules of the same type are called cohesive forces.
  • Attractive forces between molecules of different types are called adhesive forces.
  • 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.
  • Capillary action is the tendency of a fluid to be raised or suppressed in a narrow tube, or capillary tube which is due to the relative strength of cohesive and adhesive forces.

Conceptual questions

The density of oil is less than that of water, yet a loaded oil tanker sits lower in the water than an empty one. Why?

Is surface tension due to cohesive or adhesive forces, or both?

Is capillary action due to cohesive or adhesive forces, or both?

Birds such as ducks, geese, and swans have greater densities than water, yet they are able to sit on its surface. Explain this ability, noting that water does not wet their feathers and that they cannot sit on soapy water.

Water beads up on an oily sunbather, but not on her neighbor, whose skin is not oiled. Explain in terms of cohesive and adhesive forces.

Could capillary action be used to move fluids in a “weightless” environment, such as in an orbiting space probe?

What effect does capillary action have on the reading of a manometer with uniform diameter? Explain your answer.

Pressure between the inside chest wall and the outside of the lungs normally remains negative. Explain how pressure inside the lungs can become positive (to cause exhalation) without muscle action.


What is the pressure inside an alveolus having a radius of 2 . 50 × 10 4 m size 12{2 "." "50" times "10" rSup { size 8{ - 4} } `m} {} if the surface tension of the fluid-lined wall is the same as for soapy water? You may assume the pressure is the same as that created by a spherical bubble.

592 N/m 2 size 12{"592"`"N/m" rSup { size 8{2} } } {}

(a) The pressure inside an alveolus with a 2 . 00 × 10 4 size 12{2 "." "00" times "10" rSup { size 8{ - 4} } } {} -m radius is 1 . 40 × 10 3 Pa size 12{1 "." "40" times "10" rSup { size 8{3} } `"Pa"} {} , due to its fluid-lined walls. Assuming the alveolus acts like a spherical bubble, what is the surface tension of the fluid? (b) Identify the likely fluid. (You may need to extrapolate between values in [link] .)

What is the gauge pressure in millimeters of mercury inside a soap bubble 0.100 m in diameter?

2 . 23 × 10 2 mm Hg size 12{2 "." "23" times "10" rSup { size 8{ - 2} } `"mm"`"Hg"} {}

Calculate the force on the slide wire in [link] if it is 3.50 cm long and the fluid is ethyl alcohol.

[link] (a) shows the effect of tube radius on the height to which capillary action can raise a fluid. (a) Calculate the height h size 12{h} {} for water in a glass tube with a radius of 0.900 cm—a rather large tube like the one on the left. (b) What is the radius of the glass tube on the right if it raises water to 4.00 cm?

(a) 1 . 65 × 10 3 m size 12{1 "." "65" times "10" rSup { size 8{ - 3} } `m} {}

(b) 3 . 71 × 10 –4 m size 12{3 "." "71" times "10" rSup { size 8{4} } `m} {}

We stated in [link] that a xylem tube is of radius 2 . 50 × 10 5 m . Verify that such a tube raises sap less than a meter by finding h for it, making the same assumptions that sap’s density is 1050 kg/m 3 size 12{"1050"`"kg/m" rSup { size 8{3} } } {} , its contact angle is zero, and its surface tension is the same as that of water at 20.0º C .

What fluid is in the device shown in [link] if the force is 3 . 16 × 10 3 N size 12{3 "." "16" times "10" rSup { size 8{ - 3} } `N} {} and the length of the wire is 2.50 cm? Calculate the surface tension γ size 12{g} {} and find a likely match from [link] .

6 . 32 × 10 2 N/m size 12{6 "." "32" times "10" rSup { size 8{ - 2} } `"N/m"} {}

Based on the values in table, the fluid is probably glycerin.

If the gauge pressure inside a rubber balloon with a 10.0-cm radius is 1.50 cm of water, what is the effective surface tension of the balloon?

Calculate the gauge pressures inside 2.00-cm-radius bubbles of water, alcohol, and soapy water. Which liquid forms the most stable bubbles, neglecting any effects of evaporation?

P w = 14 . 6 N/m 2 , P a = 4.46 N/m 2 , P sw = 7.40 N/m 2 . alignl { stack { size 12{P rSub { size 8{w} } ="14" "." 6`"N/m" rSup { size 8{2} } , } {} #p rSub { size 8{a} } =4 "." "46"`"N/m" rSup { size 8{2} } , {} #P rSub { size 8{"sw"} } =7 "." "40"`"N/m" rSup { size 8{2} } "." {} } } {}

Alcohol forms the most stable bubble, since the absolute pressure inside is closest to atmospheric pressure.

Suppose water is raised by capillary action to a height of 5.00 cm in a glass tube. (a) To what height will it be raised in a paraffin tube of the same radius? (b) In a silver tube of the same radius?

Calculate the contact angle θ size 12{θ} {} for olive oil if capillary action raises it to a height of 7.07 cm in a glass tube with a radius of 0.100 mm. Is this value consistent with that for most organic liquids?

5.1º size 12{5 "." 1°} {}

This is near the value of θ = size 12{θ=0°} {} for most organic liquids.

When two soap bubbles touch, the larger is inflated by the smaller until they form a single bubble. (a) What is the gauge pressure inside a soap bubble with a 1.50-cm radius? (b) Inside a 4.00-cm-radius soap bubble? (c) Inside the single bubble they form if no air is lost when they touch?

Calculate the ratio of the heights to which water and mercury are raised by capillary action in the same glass tube.

2 . 78 size 12{ - 2 "." "78"} {}

The ratio is negative because water is raised whereas mercury is lowered.

What is the ratio of heights to which ethyl alcohol and water are raised by capillary action in the same glass tube?

Questions & Answers

how can chip be made from sand
Eke Reply
is this allso about nanoscale material
are nano particles real
Missy Reply
Hello, if I study Physics teacher in bachelor, can I study Nanotechnology in master?
Lale Reply
no can't
where is the latest information on a no technology how can I find it
where we get a research paper on Nano chemistry....?
Maira Reply
nanopartical of organic/inorganic / physical chemistry , pdf / thesis / review
what are the products of Nano chemistry?
Maira Reply
There are lots of products of nano chemistry... Like nano coatings.....carbon fiber.. And lots of others..
Even nanotechnology is pretty much all about chemistry... Its the chemistry on quantum or atomic level
no nanotechnology is also a part of physics and maths it requires angle formulas and some pressure regarding concepts
Preparation and Applications of Nanomaterial for Drug Delivery
Hafiz Reply
Application of nanotechnology in medicine
has a lot of application modern world
what is variations in raman spectra for nanomaterials
Jyoti Reply
ya I also want to know the raman spectra
I only see partial conversation and what's the question here!
Crow Reply
what about nanotechnology for water purification
RAW Reply
please someone correct me if I'm wrong but I think one can use nanoparticles, specially silver nanoparticles for water treatment.
yes that's correct
I think
Nasa has use it in the 60's, copper as water purification in the moon travel.
nanocopper obvius
what is the stm
Brian Reply
is there industrial application of fullrenes. What is the method to prepare fullrene on large scale.?
industrial application...? mmm I think on the medical side as drug carrier, but you should go deeper on your research, I may be wrong
How we are making nano material?
what is a peer
What is meant by 'nano scale'?
What is STMs full form?
scanning tunneling microscope
how nano science is used for hydrophobicity
Do u think that Graphene and Fullrene fiber can be used to make Air Plane body structure the lightest and strongest. Rafiq
what is differents between GO and RGO?
what is simplest way to understand the applications of nano robots used to detect the cancer affected cell of human body.? How this robot is carried to required site of body cell.? what will be the carrier material and how can be detected that correct delivery of drug is done Rafiq
analytical skills graphene is prepared to kill any type viruses .
Any one who tell me about Preparation and application of Nanomaterial for drug Delivery
what is Nano technology ?
Bob Reply
write examples of Nano molecule?
The nanotechnology is as new science, to scale nanometric
nanotechnology is the study, desing, synthesis, manipulation and application of materials and functional systems through control of matter at nanoscale
How we can toraidal magnetic field
Aditya Reply
How we can create polaidal magnetic field
Mykayuh Reply
Because I'm writing a report and I would like to be really precise for the references
Gre Reply
where did you find the research and the first image (ECG and Blood pressure synchronized)? Thank you!!
Gre Reply
Practice Key Terms 5

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Source:  OpenStax, Physics 101. OpenStax CNX. Jan 07, 2013 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11479/1.1
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