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A new method for measuring the surface energy of solids


Although the surface tension of liquids has been understood and measured since the time of Young1 and Laplace2, the surface energy of solids has eluded understanding and evaded measurement, despite its postulated importance to catalysis, crystal growth, colloidal behaviour, sintering and fracture. It is salutary to reflect that solid surface energies are even now more readily determined by theoretical argument than by experiment. Here we show that solid surface energies can be evaluated experimentally by measuring the elastic modulus of submicrometre powder assemblies, knowing the particle diameter, elastic modulus and volume fraction.

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Kendall, K., McN.Alford, N. & Birchall, J. A new method for measuring the surface energy of solids. Nature 325, 794–796 (1987).

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