Interfacial Tension, Surface Tension Testing Services

We provide a fast-turnaround surface tension testing and wetting analysis service for your samples.

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We can provide measurements of surface tension and hydrophobicity or hydrophilicity of a surface or liquid as a function of time and/or temperature. On completion of our testing you will receive a full written report with graphical and numerical results and explanatory notes.

We are an expert measurement lab and any support you may need from us regarding the relevence, interpretation or application of the results we provide is all included in the initial cost of the testing.

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Surface tension measurements for wetting properties

From simple measurements of equilibrated surface tension, to more complex time dependent or temperature dependent relationships, we have a host of accessories which enable us to tightly control the conditions of measurement for your sample. For short time-scale processes we can observe up to a resolution of 5ms.

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Pendant Drop Analysis

Pendant drop analysis measures the shape of a liquid drop suspended from the end of a tube in air or a lower density liquid. The shape of the hanging drop of liquid is the result of the competing forces of gravity, trying to pull the drop into a pear shape, and surface tension, trying to maintain a sphere. By analysis of the resulting drop shape surface tension and interfacial tension can be calculated. We can also measure how long it takes for the surface to reach an equilibrium after having just been been formed which indicates how quickly surface actives stabilise newly formed surface.

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Sessile Drop Analysis

Sessile drop analysis entails measuring the angle at which a small drop of liquid contacts a surface. Contact angle ranges from 0 degrees for complete wetting of a surface to 180 degrees for complete non-wetting. In the case of water on a surface, a contact angle of less than 90 degrees characterises the surface as hydrophilic and hydrophobic if the contact angle exceeds 90 degrees. Contact angle measurements are typically used to measure the wettability of a known surface through the use of drops from various liquids under test. Alternatively, by applying known liquids to an unknown material, the surface energy of that material can be quantified.

Dynamic contact angle measurement methods

Dynamic contact angle measurement is the term given to the quantification of advancing and receding contact angle. Advancing contact angle is that associated with wetting fresh, previously un-wetted surface. Receding contact angle is that angle associated with the dewetting of a surface, as the liquid front recedes. The difference between advancing and receding contact angle is known as hysteresis and can inform about the uniformity of a surface treatment, its roughness and cleanliness.

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Dynamic contact angle measurement is performed in two ways: through altering the volume of a sessile drop by dosing liquid to form a maximum advancing angle (Figure a) and removing liquid to form a minimum receding angle (Figure b), or by the use of a tilting table (below) which measures the angles at the front and rear of a drop at the incipient of movement. The tilting table method employed here can also be used to measure the “roll off angle” which provides a simple measure of the draining ability of a treated surface.


Dynamic Wetting Measurement

Wetting is the result effect of the adhesive forces between a solid surface and a liquid drop, and the cohesive forces within the liquid drop. Strong liquid-solid surface cohesive forces minimise the contact angle, while stronger liquid-liquid adhesive forces lead to an increased contact angle. The dynamic wetting measurement can be recorded using high speed imaging to capture the contact angle at rapid intervals subsequent to the placing of a drop. This can inform on rapid adsorption of surface active entities or on situations where significant interaction, either chemical or physical, with a surface may occur. The main commercial applications of this technique are:

  • Determining surface functionality.
  • Development of self-cleansing films, fabrics and glass surfaces.
  • Measuring the spreading rate of various liquids on a surface.

Interfacial Rheology Measurement

Interfacial rheology is an exciting and relatively new technique that enables the characterisation of viscoelastic properties of an interface such as modulus and stress relaxation. These properties arise from the time-dependent interchange of surface active entities between the bulk solution and the interface. As interface is created surfactants take a finite time to adsorb to an equilibrium condition; if the interface is then compressed those surfactants are then forced back into the solution.
By oscillating the size of a pendant drop and measuring the interfacial tension throughout it is possible to characterise these processes. This method is known as dilatational interfacial rheology.

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