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Name:  Alexander
Status:  student
Age:  16
Location: N/A
Country: N/A
Date: 2000-2001

What is surface tension of water in terms of hydrogen bonding? Are the surface water molecules attracted to each other more than the water molecules below them?

Not exactly. In the bulk liquid, each water molecule is surrounded by other water molecules with which it can form favorable hydrogen bonds. At the surface, however, the individual molecules do not have as many options. For the most part, they are able to arrange themselves so that they experience just as many stabilizing interactions as the bulk molecules enjoy; however, for a surface molecule to move or turn disrupts things a lot more than moving or turning a molecule in the bulk. The net effect is for the surface layer to be more rigid than the bulk material.

You have hit upon a very important area of research: the structure of liquid water. Many outstanding experimentalists and theoreticians have addressed this question in the past 50 years, and many are still working on it today.

Richard E. Barrans Jr., Ph.D.
Assistant Director
PG Research Foundation, Darien, Illinois

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