Sie sind auf Seite 1von 6

Determination of the surface pressure by bubble-pressure method

The surface tension of liquids The molecules of liquids attract each other by cohesive forces resulting into small distances between the molecules (on the order of 0.1 nm). Hence the compressibility of liquids is lower then that of gas, while the density is much higher. On the other hand, these cohesive forces are not strong enough to result into the fixed position of molecules that can be seen in solid matter. Liquids do not keep a fixed shape, but adapt the shape of a container. Attractive cohesive forces are short range forces which are based on the electronic interactions. They affect only molecules in their close vicinity (zone of molecular interaction). In the bulk of the liquid, each molecule is attracted equally in all directions by the neighboring molecules, thus resulting in a total force of zero (Fig. 1). However, the molecules at the surface do not have other like molecules on all sides of them and they are pulled inwards the liquid core by non-zero total force (Fig. 1). Consequently, they cohere more strongly to those directly associated with them on the surface and form a surface "film". Nevertheless, these surface molecules are in the energetically unfavorable state, which makes liquid to minimize the surface area. The geometrical requirement of smallest surface area at the fixed volume is satisfied by the sphere. It is the reason why the free drops of water form spherical droplets.

Figure 1: Cohesive forces in a case of the molecule at the liquid surface and in the bulk.

Surface area increase, S, is balanced out by the increase of energy, E, where

E = S


The coefficient defines the surface tension in the units of J/m2=N/m. Each liquid is characterized by its own surface tension, which decreases with an increasing temperature (see Table 2). The molecules of the liquid interact with the walls of the container through adhesive forces. The surface bends up (concave meniscus) when the adhesive intermolecular forces are stronger than the cohesive forces inside the liquid (e.g. water in a glass container shown on Figure 2), while it bends down (convex meniscus) when the adhesive forces are weaker (e.g. mercury in a glass container).

Figure 2: The glass capillary of a radius r immersed in water.

Capillary action is the result of interplay between the surface tension and adhesive forces. Water inside the capillary arises above the water level in the container (capillary elevation). Capillary pressure, pk, that draws water into capillary is determined by the radius of capillary, r, and the surface tension of water, , as follows from
pk = 2 r [2]

Capillary pressure and capillary elevation is higher for narrower capillary. In a contrary to water, capillary action in a case of mercury has an opposite direction. The mercury level inside the capillary is lower than that in the container (capillary depression).

The method of surface pressure determination by pushing the bubbles through the capillary
The capillary of radius r is immersed in the liquid of density and surface tension

, such that the bottom of capillary is at the depth of h bellow the water level (Figure 2).
We would need to apply pressure equivalent to the capillary pressure, pk, to bring the liquid level in the capillary to the same level as that in the container. The additional pressure ph ph = h g [3]

where g is a gravitational acceleration, would than cause water to be pushed out of the capillary completely. ph is the hydrostatic pressure at a depth h, and it is a result of the weight of the liquid above this point (see Figure 2). The pressure equal or greater than p = pk + ph [4]

would push the air all the way through the capillary and will create a bubble at its end. The combination of equations [2] and [3] with the equation [4] yields p= 2 + h g r [5]

It is the equation that establishes the method of surface tension determination via pushing the bubbles through the capillary. Figure 3 describes the standard apparatus employed in such a measurement. The investigated liquid is contained in a beaker, with the capillary immersed in it. Water contained in a funnel A will create the desired pressure upon the opening of the knob C1. This pressure is measured by the manometer M, which consists of a U-shape glass tube filled with water. The water levels in the both arms of manometer are equivalent at the beginning of the experiment. However, pressure p will create a difference in water levels, hV, after opening the knob C1. This pressure is determined by p = hV V g where V is a density of water. The combination of the equation [6] and [5] determines the surface tension as [6]

r (hV V h ) g 2


where the water density is V=1 g/cm3=1000 kg/m3, and the density of the investigated liquid is marked on a beaker of stock solution. The capillary radius r can be determined from the control measurement in which we measure the known surface tension of water. It is shown in Table 2 as a function of temperature. The radius r is than expressed from equation [7] using the known parameters (, V and ) and measured water levels h and hV.

Figure 3.:
The apparatus for the


determination of surface tension

K h


via pushing the bubbles through the capillary.


Equiment: Apparatus displayed in Figure 3, capillary, 2 beakers, liquids with unknown surface tension, ethanol for cleaning the capillary

Experimentl procedure: 1. Flush the capillary K with distilled water and ethanol, and dry it using the water aspirator. Mount the capillary on the apparatus arm. 2. Fill the smaller beaker with the liquid of unknown surface tension and immerse the capillary into it. 3. Fill the funnel A with water, while the knobs C1 and C2 stay closed. 4. Slowly open the knob C1, thus create an additional pressure in the apparatus. Watch the bubbles that are being pushed through the capillary. The pressure p decreases as the water level in funnel A decreases, which results into the slow reduction in a rate of

bubbling. Close the knob C1 right at the moment when the bubble formation stops. Read out the water levels h and hV. 5. Open the knob C2 to release water form apparatus into the larger beaker. 6. Repeat the measurement (sections 3 and 4) 10 times and write the measured values into a table. Calculate the average values of h and hV. 7. Wash the beaker and capillary. 8. Repeat the measurement using a different liquid. 9. Measure the room temperature t. Determine water surface tension at this temperature using the Table 2. Calculate the surface tension of the investigated liquids using the equation [7].

Tab. 1. The difference of water levels hV in manometer and the depth of capillary immersion h. water measurement hV [m] 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 h[m] hV [m] h[m] hV [m] h[m] hV [m] h[m] liquid n.1 liquid n.2 liquid n.3

Tab. 2: Water surface tension as function of the temperature.

t[C] 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25

0,07349 0,07334 0,07319 0,07305 0,07290 0,07275 0,07259 0,07244 0,07228 0,07213 0,07197

References: 1. 2. Kopeck, F.: Physics for Students of Pharmacy I. Bratislava, UK 1999. 184 s. (in Slovak) Edition of Department of Physical Chemistry: Laboratory Practice in Physics for Students of Pharmacy. Faculty of Pharmacy, Comenius University, Bratislava, UK 1991. Oremusov J., Vojtekov M.: Surface pressure of liquids. Manual for laboratory practice. (in Slovak)


The manual written by RNDr.J.Gallov, CSc. English version prepared by N. Kuerka, PhD.