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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?

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

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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

2 Answers 2

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?

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Actually this is my favourite surface tension phenomenon: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marangoni_effect. 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.

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