capillarity

/kap'euh lar"i tee/, n.
Also called capillary action, capillary attraction. Physics. a manifestation of surface tension by which the portion of the surface of a liquid coming in contact with a solid is elevated or depressed, depending on the adhesive or cohesive properties of the liquid.
[1820-30; CAPILLARY + -TY2]

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Rise or fall of liquid in a small passage or tube.

When a glass tube of small internal diameter is inserted into water, the surface water molecules are attracted to the glass and the water level in the tube rises. The narrower the tube, the higher the water rises. The water is said to "wet" the tube. Water will also be drawn into the fibres of a towel, even if the towel is in a horizontal position. Conversely, if a glass tube is inserted into mercury, the level of the liquid in the tube falls. The mercury does not wet the tube. Capillarity is caused by the difference in attraction of the liquid molecules to each other and the attraction of the liquid molecules to those of the tube.

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      rise or depression of a liquid in a small passage such as a tube of small cross-sectional area, like the spaces between the fibres of a towel or the openings in a porous material. Capillarity is not limited to the vertical direction. water is drawn into the fibres of a towel, no matter how the towel is oriented.

      Liquids that rise in small-bore tubes inserted into the liquid are said to wet the tube, whereas liquids that are depressed within thin tubes below the surface of the surrounding liquid do not wet the tube. Water is a liquid that wets glass capillary tubes; mercury is one that does not. When wetting does not occur, capillarity does not occur.

      Capillarity is the result of surface, or interfacial, forces. The rise of water in a thin tube inserted in water is caused by forces of attraction between the molecules of water and the glass walls and among the molecules of water themselves. These attractive forces just balance the force of gravity of the column of water that has risen to a characteristic height. The narrower the bore of the capillary tube, the higher the water rises. Mercury, conversely, is depressed to a greater degree, the narrower the bore.

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Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Capillarity — Cap il*lar i*ty, n. [Cf. F. capillarit[ e].] [1913 Webster] 1. The quality or condition of being capillary. [1913 Webster] 2. (Physics) The peculiar action by which the surface of a liquid, where it is in contact with a solid (as in a capillary… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • capillarity — ► NOUN ▪ the tendency of a liquid in a narrow tube or pore to rise or fall as a result of surface tension …   English terms dictionary

  • capillarity — [kap΄ə ler′i tē] n. [Fr capillarité < L capillaris: see CAPILLARY] 1. the state of being capillary 2. the property of exerting or having capillary attraction 3. CAPILLARY ATTRACTION …   English World dictionary

  • capillarity — noun The interaction between the surfaces of a solid and liquid in contact that distorts the normal geometry of the liquid surface; especially the rise or fall of a liquid in a fine tube. Hence the allowance to be made for diminution of the… …   Wiktionary

  • capillarity — kapiliarumas statusas T sritis fizika atitikmenys: angl. capillarity vok. Kapillarität, f rus. капиллярность, f pranc. capillarité, f …   Fizikos terminų žodynas

  • capillarity — noun (plural ties) Date: 1830 1. the property or state of being capillary 2. the action by which the surface of a liquid where it is in contact with a solid (as in a capillary tube) is elevated or depressed depending on the relative attraction of …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • capillarity — The rise of liquids in narrow tubes or through the pores of a loose material, as a result of capillary action. * * * cap·il·lar·i·ty .kap ə lar ət ē n, pl ties the action by which the surface of a liquid where it is in contact with a solid (as in …   Medical dictionary

  • capillarity —    The action by which a fluid, such as water, is drawn up (or depressed) in small interstices or tubes as a result of surface tension …   Lexicon of Cave and Karst Terminology

  • capillarity — cap·il·lar·i·ty || ‚kæpɪ lærÉ™tɪ n. rising or falling of a liquid s surface level …   English contemporary dictionary

  • capillarity — noun the tendency of a liquid in a narrow tube or pore to rise or fall as a result of surface tension …   English new terms dictionary

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