Surface tension

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Surface tension is a property of liquid surfaces caused by cohesion. Cohesion is the physical property resulting from the intermolecular forces attracting like-molecules. The molecules on the surface of a liquid have a greater attraction to like-molecules around them than to unlike-molecules.

Molecules on the surface of a liquid experience an inward force balanced by the resistance to compression. Another important point in understanding surface tension is the liquid molecules seek the lowest possible surface area. This is the reason that liquids form droplets on hydrophobic surfaces. The interface of lke-molecules has a lower energy than the interface of unlike-molecules, therefore surface molecules seek to have as many like-molecule interfaces as possible resulting in the lowest surface area.


Surface tension (<math>\gamma</math>) has dimensions of force per unit length, <math>\frac{F} {L}</math>.


[[Topological Changes in Bipolar Nematic Droplets under Flow]

Fernández-Nieves et. al. describe how they can change the configuration of the defects and director field in nematic liquid crystal droplets immersed in water. They use microfluidics to periodically change from bipolar and escaped concentric configurations, and when flow is stopped the droplets remain in whichever configuration they are in, even tough the bipolar state has a lower energy. The surface tension between the liquid crystal and the water stabilizes the droplets and determines their shape.


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