# Surface Tension and Bubbles

The surface tension of water provides the necessary wall tension for the formation of bubbles with water. The tendency to minimize that wall tension pulls the bubbles into spherical shapes (LaPlace's law).

The pressure difference between the inside and outside of a bubble depends upon the surface tension and the radius of the bubble. The relationship can be obtained by visualizing the bubble as two hemispheres and noting that the internal pressure which tends to push the hemispheres apart is counteracted by the surface tension acting around the cirumference of the circle.

For a bubble with two surfaces providing tension tension, the pressure relationship is:

Derive the relationship
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# Bubble Pressure

The net upward force on the top hemisphere of the bubble is just the pressure difference times the area of the equatorial circle:

The surface tension force downward around circle is twice the surface tension times the circumference, since two surfaces contribute to the force:

This latter case also applies to the case of a bubble surrounded by a liquid, such as the case of the alveoli of the lungs.

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# Surface Tension and Droplets

Surface tension is responsible for the shape of liquid droplets. Although easily deformed, droplets of water tend to be pulled into a spherical shape by the cohesive forces of the surface layer. The spherical shape minimizes then necessary "wall tension" of the surface layer according to LaPlace's law. The relatively high surface tension of water accounts for the ease with which it can be nebulized, or placed into aerosol form. Low surface tension liquids tend to evaporate quickly and are difficult to keep in an aerosol form. All liquids display surface tension to some degree. The surface tension of liquid lead is utilized to advantage in the manufacture of various sizes of lead shot. Molten lead is poured through a screen of the desired mesh size at the top of a tower. The surface tension pulls the lead into spherical balls, and it solidifies in that form before it reaches the bottom of the tower.

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# Capillary Action

 Capillary action is the result of adhesion and surface tension. Adhesion of water to the walls of a vessel will cause an upward force on the liquid at the edges and result in a meniscus which turns upward. The surface tension acts to hold the surface intact, so instead of just the edges moving upward, the whole liquid surface is dragged upward.
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# Capillary Action

 Capillary action occurs when the adhesion to the walls is stronger than the cohesive forces between the liquid molecules. The height to which capillary action will take water in a uniform circular tube is limited by surface tension. Acting around the circumference, the upward force is The height h to which capillary action will lift water depends upon the weight of water which the surface tension will lift: The height to which the liquid can be lifted is given by Show calculation
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# Capillary Action Calculation

 The height h to which Capillary action will lift water depends upon the weight of water which the surface tension will lift: The height to which the liquid can be lifted is given by Discussion
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