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## Surface Tension

by: Eric Blackmon

18

1

2

# Surface Tension EM 3213

Eric Blackmon
MSU

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Experimenting with Surface Tension
COURSE
Mechanics of Materials
PROF.
Gregory Olsen
TYPE
Class Notes
PAGES
2
WORDS
CONCEPTS
fluid mechanics
KARMA
25 ?

## Popular in Mechanical Engineering

This 2 page Class Notes was uploaded by Eric Blackmon on Tuesday March 1, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to EM 3213 at Mississippi State University taught by Gregory Olsen in Winter 2016. Since its upload, it has received 18 views. For similar materials see Mechanics of Materials in Mechanical Engineering at Mississippi State University.

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Date Created: 03/01/16
1 Experimenting With Surface Tension Of Water Water is one of the most unique and amazing substances in the known scientific world. It is essential for most biological systems and covers an estimated 75 percent of the planet. As a civil engineering student, it is of utmost importance for me to understand and explain the properties exhibited by water. Among these fascinating properties of water is its ability to have surface tension. After conducting a couple experiments involving the surface tension of water, I wanted to be able to define surface tension more accurately and see its effects in action. So what exactly is surface tension? The phenomenon known as surface tension is due to cohesive forces that exist between the water molecules. The water molecules located at the surface of the water are not completely surrounded by other water molecules, thus these molecules cohere with stronger bonds to the molecules located below and adjacent to them. Because the water molecules do not cohere to the molecules that compose the air located at the surface, it’s almost as if a “film” or “skin” forms along the surface of the water. Although this “film” is not really present at the surface, the cohesive strength of the water molecules bonding to other water molecules and not the air make it much easier to allow an object to move more freely in water when it’s completely submerged as opposed to when the object is trying to move through the water surface (http://water.usgs.gov/edu/surface-tension.html). In the first experiment, I was able to see the effects that surface tension has an object as it is lowered into the water. A large paper clip is made of wired steel having a diameter of approximately 1.02 mm. Although the density of steel and the density of water differ greatly in magnitude, the higher density steel paper clip will float on the surface of water due to surface tension (Figure 1). This ability of water to have surface tension can be greatly affected by very small changes to the composition of the water near the surface. At first, I tried to place the paper clip onto the surface of the water using my fingers and it sunk straight to the bottom of the glass every time. The oils Figure 1 from my skin would get into the water and cause the bonding water molecules to weaken, thus disrupting the surface tension effect. After lowering the paper clip into the water using a small metal fork, the paper clip had no trouble floating on the surface. In the second experiment, I saw that water’s ability to have surface tension resulted in a small bubble forming on top of a nickel (Figure 2). A nickel, having a diameter of 21.21 mm and a thickness of 1.95mm, was able to serve as a useful surface Figure 2 for this water droplet to form nicely even though the coin is not very large. At the molecular level, cohesive forces that exist in water are being shared with all 2 nearby atoms. Since water molecules near the surface of air have no neighboring atoms to share bonds with, they exhibit an enhancement of stronger intermolecular attractive forces. This polar nature exhibited by the water molecule gives rise to surface tension. It allows wall tension to form that is necessary for the water to be pulled in to form spherically shaped water bubbles or droplets (http://hyperphysics.phy-astr.gsu.edu/hbase/surten.html). Even after I kept adding more droplets of water to my bubble on the nickel, I was surprised at how large the bubble became before it fell off the surface of the nickel. The ability of water molecules to have surface tension is quite fascinating. In doing these experiments, my questions as to why some insects have the ability to walk on water or why bubbles are always round were answered. Having an understanding of the natural behavior of water in these examples has definitely helped me better understand the world around me. I was able to learn quite a bit about this phenomena that will ultimately prove useful for my future education and profession as it deals with civil engineering projects, especially anything that has to do with water resources management.

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