Surface Tension & Capillary Action

In this article, we will be looking at the concepts and definitions of Surface Tension and Capillary Action, and related terms.

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Surface Tension

  • Surface tension occurs at the interface of the liquid and a gas or at the interface of two liquids.
  • Surface tension (σ) is inversely proportional to temperature.
  • It acts when fluid is at rest.
  • It is a surface phenomenon.
  • It is force per unit length (N/m).
  • It is due to cohesion only.
  • For the water-air interface at 20 °C, its value is 0.0736 N/m.
  • At the critical point, liquid-vapor states are same therefore σ = 0.

Pressure inside a drop (Solid like a sphere)

P = 4σ/d

Pressure inside Bubble

P = 8σ/d

Pressure inside Jet

P = 2σ/d

Here d = diameter of a drop

P = Gauge Pressure

Capillary Action

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  • Capillary Action is due to cohesion and adhesion, both.
  • For capillary action diameter of the tube should be less than 3 cm.

Height of Water in Capillary Tube

h = 4σcos θ/ρgd

Where, h = rise in capillary

σ = surface tension of water and glass

d = diameter of a tube

θ = Angle of contact between the liquid and material

  • For water and glass take θ = 0 degree
  • For mercury and glass take θ = 128 degree

Liquid surface supporting  Another Liquid

When Liquid surface supports another Liquid of Density ‘ρb’ then Rise is given by

h = 4σcos θ/(ρ – ρb)gd

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