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surface tension n.
A property of liquids arising from unbalanced molecular cohesive forces at or near the surface, as a result of which the surface tends to contract and exhibit properties resembling those of a stretched elastic membrane.
A measure of this property.
surface tension |
A property of liquids such that their surfaces behave like a thin, elastic film. Surface tension is an effect of intermolecular attraction, in which molecules at or near the surface undergo a net attraction to the rest of the fluid, while molecules not near the surface are attracted to other molecules equally in all directions and undergo no net attraction. Because of surface tension, the surface of a liquid can support light objects (such as water beetles on the surface of a pond). Surface tension is responsible for the spherical shape of drops of liquid; spheres minimize the surface area of the drop and thus minimize surface tension. See also capillary action, meniscus.