Physics Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for active researchers, academics and students of physics. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

What are some common applications, uses, exploitations of the properties of surface tension?

Here is what I mean. A water strider can walk on water, that is a consequence of surface tension. This is a consequence, but it is not human made.

On the other hand, I heard that in the construction of some tents, the upper cover of the tent is the rain protector. It is not really impermeable, but if water is placed on it then the water surface tension does not let the water pass through the fine, small pores of the tent cover. However, if you touch the cover while water is on it, you break the surface tension and water passes through.

I would say that the above fact is a clever use of the effect of surface tension. Are there any other known applications, or interesting experiments regarding the surface or interfacial tension?

share|cite|improve this question

closed as not constructive by David Z May 10 '12 at 4:30

As it currently stands, this question is not a good fit for our Q&A format. We expect answers to be supported by facts, references, or expertise, but this question will likely solicit debate, arguments, polling, or extended discussion. If you feel that this question can be improved and possibly reopened, visit the help center for guidance.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

How about dambusters of the II world war? – Pygmalion May 9 '12 at 11:38
Hi Beni! Questions like this which ask for a list of answers without any basis for judging one against another are discouraged on SE sites. – David Z May 10 '12 at 4:31

The waterproofing of tents (or of Gore-Tex that maybe more of us will be familar with) is really to do with wetting of the fabric rather than surface tension. Though having said that, the wetting i.e. contact angle, is a play-off between the water-air, fabric-water and fabric-air interfacial tensions, so it is related to surface tension.

Anyhow, back to surface tension. How about making nano-sized motors?

share|cite|improve this answer
Actually this is my favourite surface tension phenomenon: I could study it all day :-) – John Rennie May 9 '12 at 12:18

Take a look at this paper

Tears of Venom: Hydrodynamics of Reptilian Envenomation

Reptiles use surface tension to eject venom from their fangs. See also this and this.

share|cite|improve this answer

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.