Van der Waals-Zeeman Institute (WZI)
The surface tension of water is an important parameter for many biological or industrial processes, and roughly a factor of 3 higher than that of nonpolar liquids such as oils, which is usually attributed to hydrogen bonding and dipolar interactions. Here we show by studying the formation of water drops that the surface tension of a freshly created water surface is even higher (∼90 mN m-1) than under equilibrium conditions (∼72 mN m-1) with a relaxation process occurring on a long time scale (∼1 ms). Dynamic adsorption effects of protons or hydroxides may be at the origin of this dynamic surface tension. However, changing the pH does not significantly change the dynamic surface tension. It also seems unlikely that hydrogen bonding or dipole orientation effects play any role at the relatively long time scale probed in the experiments.