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Wetting of Solids

Abstract

The contact between a solid and a liquid involves the phenomenon of wetting. This is the intuitive, intimate contact between the two phases. We consider here thermodynamic aspects of wetting, which involves three phases in fact, since the environment must be taken into account. Methods for determining wetting characteristics are discussed.

Keywords Contact angles - phase boundaries - thermodynamics - wetting

What is Wetting?

When you "wet" your hands under the tap, or in a bowl of water, you are implicitly assuming that the water is directly, intimately, contacting your skin. Water is wet, apparently even etymologically. The Indo-European root of water is *wed-, "wet." However, this important, implicit connotation of the term wetting clearly fails if you are so unlucky as to break an old mercury thermometer or barometer and get the liquid on your skin. The mercury tucks itself up into little beads and apparently does not "wet" your skin. What is the