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Cohesion and Adhesion in Liquids

Children blow soap bubbles and play in the spray of a sprinkler on a hot summer day. (See Figure 1.) An underwater
spider keeps his air supply in a shiny bubble he carries wrapped around him. A technician draws blood into a small-
diameter tube just by touching it to a drop on a pricked finger. A premature infant struggles to inflate her lungs.
What is the common thread? All these activities are dominated by the attractive forces between atoms and
molecules in liquidsboth within a liquid and between the liquid and its surroundings.
Attractive forces between molecules of the same type are called cohesive forces. Liquids can, for example, be held in
open containers because cohesive forces hold the molecules together. Attractive forces between molecules of
different types are called adhesive forces. Such forces cause liquid drops to cling to window panes, for example. In
this section we examine effects directly attributable to cohesive and adhesive forces in liquids.
Cohesive Forces:
Attractive forces between molecules of the same type are called cohesive forces.
Adhesive Forces:
Attractive forces between molecules of different types are called adhesive forces.
Capillary action (sometimes capillarity, capillary motion, or wicking) is the ability of a liquid to flow in narrow spaces
without the assistance of, and in opposition to, external forces like gravity. The effect can be seen in the drawing up
of liquids between the hairs of a paint-brush, in a thin tube, in porous materials such as paper, in some non-porous
materials such as liquefied carbon fiber, or in a cell. It occurs because of intermolecular forces between the liquid
and surrounding solid surfaces. If the diameter of the tube is sufficiently small, then the combination of surface
tension (which is caused by cohesion within the liquid) and adhesive forces between the liquid and container act to
lift the liquid. In short, the capillary action is due to the pressure of cohesion and adhesion which cause the liquid to
work against gravity.
Surface tension
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Surface tension and hydrophobicity interact in this attempt to cut a water droplet.
Surface tension is a contractive tendency of the surface of a liquid that allows it to resist an external force. Surface
tension is an important property that markedly influences the ecosystem. Surface tension is exposed, for example,
any time an object or insect (e.g. water striders) that is denser than water is able to float or run along the water
surface. 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 20C) compared to that of most other liquids. Surface tension is an important factor in the phenomenon of
capillarity.
Surface tension has the dimension of force per unit length, or of energy per unit area. The two are equivalentbut
when referring to energy per unit of area, people use the term surface energywhich is a more general term in the
sense that it applies also to solids and not just liquids.