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Concepts in Surface Physics

The Electrostatics and Surface Physics Laboratory at the NASA Kennedy Space Center is dedicated to investigations in electrostatics and surface physics problems with applications for space flight and planetary exploration. The laboratory is currently carrying out electrostatic analyses and materials characterization to assist in the detection, mitigation, and prevention of electrostatic charge generation on space flight hardware and ground support equipment.

The laboratory is also involved in dust mitigation efforts for Lunar and Martian exploration. As part of Swamp Works , the Electrostatics and Surface Physics Laboratory can provide concepts, designs, technology development, technology demonstration, testing, and knowledge in support of development of surface systems. Ready to explore a partnership, or simply need more information?


  • Surface Tension.
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Please submit your inquiry to our KSC Facilitator. Launching Dreams. Site Map search query Begin search. Skip Navigation Home About Us. A razor blade also can be supported by the surface tension of water.

The razor blade is not floating: if pushed through the surface, it sinks through the water. Surface tension depends mainly upon the forces of attraction between the particles within the given liquid and also upon the gas , solid , or liquid in contact with it. The molecules in a drop of water, for example, attract each other weakly.

Course outline:

Water molecules well inside the drop may be thought of as being attracted equally in all directions by the surrounding molecules. However, if surface molecules could be displaced slightly outward from the surface, they would be attracted back by the nearby molecules.

'Surface Science' course | Surface Physics and Interface Chemistry

The energy responsible for the phenomenon of surface tension may be thought of as approximately equivalent to the work or energy required to remove the surface layer of molecules in a unit area. Surface tension may be expressed, therefore, in units of energy joules per unit area square metres. Water has a surface tension of 0. In comparison, organic liquids, such as benzene and alcohols , have lower surface tensions, whereas mercury has a higher surface tension.

An increase in temperature lowers the net force of attraction among molecules and hence decreases surface tension.

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However, if surface molecules could be displaced slightly outward from the surface, they would be attracted back by the nearby molecules. The energy responsible for the phenomenon of surface tension may be thought of as approximately equivalent to the work or energy required to remove the surface layer of molecules in a unit area.

Surface tension may be expressed, therefore, in units of energy joules per unit area square metres. Water has a surface tension of 0. In comparison, organic liquids, such as benzene and alcohols , have lower surface tensions, whereas mercury has a higher surface tension.

An increase in temperature lowers the net force of attraction among molecules and hence decreases surface tension. Surface tension is also viewed as the result of forces acting in the plane of the surface and tending to minimize its area. On this basis, surface tension is often expressed as an amount of force exerted in the surface perpendicular to a line of unit length. The unit then is newtons per metre, which is equivalent to joules per square metre.

Surface tension. Article Media.


  • Introduction to Surface Tension.
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