Schramm, Laurier L. Saskatchewan Research Council, Saskatchewan, Canada.
Last reviewed:November 2016
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- Surface energy
- Vapor pressure
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The force acting in the surface of a liquid, tending to minimize the area of the surface. Surface forces, or more generally, interfacial forces, govern such phenomena as the wetting or nonwetting of solids by liquids, the capillary rise of liquids in fine tubes and wicks, and the curvature of free-liquid surfaces (Fig. 1). The surface tensions of liquids have important influences in many phenomena occurring in industrial processes and in everyday life. Examples include the shape of aerosol rain drops, the cleaning action of detergents, the formation and destruction of emulsions and foams, the wetting of solids by liquids, the movement of groundwater, the recovery of petroleum from underground formations, and the flotation separation of minerals. See also: Aerosol; Detergent; Emulsion; Foam; Flotation; Wetting (physical chemistry)
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