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# At liquid-air interfaces, surface tension results from the greater attraction of water molecules to

each other (due to cohesion) than to the molecules in the air (due to adhesion). The net effect is
an inward force at its surface that causes water to behave as if its surface were covered with a
stretched elastic membrane. Because of the relatively high attraction of water molecules for each
other, water has a high surface tension (72.8 millinewtons per meter at 20 C) compared to that
of most other liquids. Surface tension is an important factor in the phenomenon of capillarity.
The cohesive forces among liquid molecules are responsible for the phenomenon of surface
tension. In the bulk of the liquid, each molecule is pulled equally in every direction by neighboring
liquid molecules, resulting in a net force of zero. The molecules at the surface do not have
the same molecules on all sides of them and therefore are pulled inwards. This creates
some internal pressure and forces liquid surfaces to contract to the minimal area.
Surface tension is responsible for the shape of liquid droplets. Although easily deformed, droplets
of water tend to be pulled into a spherical shape by the imbalance in cohesive forces of the
surface layer. In the absence of other forces, including gravity, drops of virtually all liquids would
be approximately spherical. The spherical shape minimizes the necessary "wall tension" of the
surface layer according to Laplace's law.

## Why water droplet is spherical in shape?

It has to do with the surface tension of water molecules. A droplet of water is made up of a bunch of
water molecules, which all have a very strong attraction to each other. This is why water always stays
together in one form. (Examples: a puddle, a lake, or even the water in a cup) You can think of the
droplet as having two parts, the molecules on the surface and the molecules inside. Though there are
air molecules above the surface, the water molecules are more attracted to other ones below them,
and so an inward force is created. The surface molecules are pulled towards the center, squeezing all

the molecules together until they can't squeeze any more. Since all the surface molecules are pulled
in at equal forces, the result is a sphere, or a droplet shape.

A needle is able to float on water and an insect is able to walk on water surface. How

is that possible?? its because free surface water behaves like stretched elastic
membrane supporting the needle and insect. This property of liquid is known as
surface tension.
Thus surface tension of a liquid can be defined as property of liquid by virtue of
which the surface of liquid at rest act as stretched elastic membrane having
contracting tendency. Let us now study this property with the help of molecular
attraction. Consider three molecules in liquid having dotted circle around it
meaning sphere of influence to attract molecules