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SURFACE TENSION

Force of Cohesion: It is the force between two molecules of similar nature.


Force of Adhesion: It is the force between two molecules of different nature.
Molecular Range: The maximum distance between two molecules so that the force of
attraction between them remains effective is called molecular range.
Sphere of Influence: Sphere of influence of any molecule is the sphere with molecule as its
centre and having a radius equal to molecular range (  107 cm )
Surface Tension: Surface tension is the property of a liquid by virtue of which its free
surface behaves as a stretched membrane and supports comparatively heavier objects placed
over it.
Surface tension is measured in terms of force of surface tension. It is denoted by T.
Surface Film: Surface film of a liquid is defined as the portion of liquid on the surface and
caught between two parallel planes situated molecular range apart.
Force of Surface Tension: Force of surface tension is defined as the amount of force acting
per unit length on either side of an imaginary line drawn over the liquid surface.
Unit of T is i) dyn/cm in c.g.s system
ii) N/m in S.I system

Molecular Theory of Surface Tension:


Let, PQ be the free surface of a liquid contained in beaker. A mutual force of
attraction called the cohesive force acts between the liquid molecules. Let us consider a
molecule A of the liquid lying well within the free surface of the liquid. The sphere of
influence of A lies wholly in the liquid and is equally attracted in all directions. The net force
on it is zero. Thus it does not possess any potential energy. The sphere of influence of B, on
the other hand is exactly half outside the liquid and half inside it. So, it is attracted by the
molecules from below but there is no force from above the surface. Hence, it is attracted
downwards with maximum force. Thus, molecules on the surface possess some potential
energy. Since, every system in equilibrium tries to have minimum potential energy; the liquid
surface also tries it by minimising its surface area. As the surface film tries to acquire a
spherical shape, it bends round the corner, thus creating a tension, known as surface tension
in the surface.

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Factors Influencing Surface Tension of a Liquid:
i. Effect of solute: The surface tension of a liquid increases if inorganic substances are
present in the liquid but the presence of dissolved organic substances lowers the
surface tension.
ii. Impurity: Presence of impurity (not dissolved) in liquid decreases its surface tension.
iii. Medium above the liquid: Surface tension of a liquid depends upon the nature of
medium in contact with the liquid.
iv. Temperature: The surface tension of a liquid depends upon the temperature of the
liquid. If the temperature increases, the surface tension gradually decreases and vice
versa. Surface tension of a liquid almost disappears at a particular temperature known
as critical temperature.

Surface Energy: Work done per unit increase in area of the surface is called surface energy.

Relation between Surface Tension and Surface Energy:


Consider a rectangular frame of wire PQRS. Another wire AB can be slided up and
down along PS and RQ. On dipping the frame in the soap solution, a soap film sticks to the
frame. There will be two surface films of this soap film, since the soap film is exposed to air
on both the sides, forces of surface tension due to both the films try to pull wire AB towards
QR, thereby they try to decrease the area.
Therefore, total force on wire AB due to surface tension = 2Tl, where T is the
surface tension of soap solution and l is the length of the wire AB.
To increase the area of film, a force 2Tl has to be applied in opposite direction. Let,
the wire be pulled from AB to A/B/ through a distance x. Work done to do so is,
W = Force × Distance
= 2Tl × x
As the wire is pulled both the surface films get their area increased.
Total increase in area = 2lx
Work 2Tlx
 Surface Energy   T
Increase in area 2lx
Therefore, surface energy of a liquid is numerically equal to the force of surface tension.

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