Scientists revise the 60-year-old definition of surface tension on solids

February 27, 2012

Researchers of VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland have shown that surface tension on a solid material is unconnected to the energy required to create a new surface. Consequently, surface tension on a solid does not exist in its conventional meaning.

It is generally believed that an excess on a solid material exists, in similar manner to that on a liquid. This tension is described by the Shuttleworth equation, which was presented more than 60 years ago and is considered a fundamental equation of surface thermodynamics. It is believed to provide the connection between surface tension and .

Three years ago, VTT researchers Lasse Makkonen and Kari Kolari, together with British scientist David Bottomley, revealed in the journal that the Shuttleworth equation is incompatible with the thermodynamic theory. This was hard to accept by many and provoked a lively discussion in the scientific literature.

Now Lasse Makkonen has shown mathematically that the disputed equation reduces to the definition of mechanical surface stress and has no connection with the energy of creating a new, unstrained surface. Consequently, the excess surface tension suggested by the Shuttleworth equation does not exist. The existence and nature of surface tension on a solid must therefore be sought by molecular dynamics at the only.

This new finding by Makkonen was published in Scripta Materialia this week. The research was funded by the Academy of Finland.

Explore further: Baby beetles inspire researchers to build 'mini boat' powered by surface tension (Video)

More information: Link to the publication:

Related Stories

The Marangoni effect: A fluid phenom (w/ Video)

March 11, 2011

( -- What do a wine glass on Earth and an International Space Station experiment have in common? Well, observing the wine glass would be one of few ways to see and understand the experiment being performed in ...

Venom tears: Snake bites can turn out to be groovy

May 13, 2011

Many people worry about the manner of their death. Death by car accident, death by cancer and death by gunshot are some of the more dreaded ways to go. No less awful is the prospect of death by snakebite. So a new research ...

Neutrons answer shampoo formulation puzzle

December 12, 2011

( -- Scientists at the Institut Laue-Langevin have used neutrons to solve a long-standing mystery about the surface properties of polyelectrolyte/surfactant mixtures, such as those used in many detergents, paints, ...

A new twist on surface tension

January 10, 2012

( -- On a mission to manipulate microscale structures of materials, researchers engineer new methods of controlling surface tension.

Recommended for you

CERN collides heavy nuclei at new record high energy

November 25, 2015

The world's most powerful accelerator, the 27 km long Large Hadron Collider (LHC) operating at CERN in Geneva established collisions between lead nuclei, this morning, at the highest energies ever. The LHC has been colliding ...

'Material universe' yields surprising new particle

November 25, 2015

An international team of researchers has predicted the existence of a new type of particle called the type-II Weyl fermion in metallic materials. When subjected to a magnetic field, the materials containing the particle act ...

Exploring the physics of a chocolate fountain

November 24, 2015

A mathematics student has worked out the secrets of how chocolate behaves in a chocolate fountain, answering the age-old question of why the falling 'curtain' of chocolate surprisingly pulls inwards rather than going straight ...

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

1 / 5 (1) Feb 27, 2012
but i thought the science was settled ;)

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.