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Biointerface Engineering: Intermolecular Forces and Surface Tension

The basics of biointerface engineering, such as intermolecular forces, wettability and contact angles, are covered.

Publisher: NPTEL
You have probably observed insects walking on water without sinking and wondered how that was possible. In this free online course, you will discover the science behind this action as you learn about intermolecular forces and surface tension, and their applications in everyday life, such as the adhesion of blood cells to injured blood vessels, preventing blood loss. Start this exciting course today and find out more!
Biointerface Engineering: Intermolecular Forces and Surface Tension
  • Duration

    1.5-3 Hours
  • Students

  • Accreditation


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In nature, there are four types of forces that determine the maximum possible sizes of buildings, mountains, trees and animals. These forces also affect our environment and everyday lives in many different ways and include gravitational and intermolecular forces. For instance, you have perhaps used non-stick pans and wondered how this characteristic is achieved. You will discover the principle behind this attribute - and more - in this free online course. First, you are introduced to the intermolecular forces timeline, where you will uncover the historical journey that various theories and inventions have gone through from the seventeenth century to date and the applications of these theories and innovations to benefit humanity. Learn about the various types and classifications of intermolecular forces based on their strength and other characteristics. The common types of intermolecular interactions will be introduced, together with the nature of physical and chemical bonds between molecules. The thermodynamic aspects of these forces are examined in detail, alongside the strength of interactions and hydrophobic effect.

Next, study surface tension and surface energy, which are the forces that enable insects to walk on water without getting wet. Look at adhesion and cohesion in a vacuum, the thermodynamics of interfacial energy and interfacial tension. With the help of examples, learn how to calculate the surface tension of different liquids. As you may have noticed, some materials get wet easily while others seem to repel water, such as the non-stick coating in cooking pans. This behaviour is determined by a particular material characteristic known as ‘wettability’ and is explained in detail. Discover features such as hydrophilicity and hydrophobicity of surfaces and their effects on a material’s wettability. Although these may seem like highly complex concepts, you will get to comprehend them through well-structured explanations and specific examples. The relationship between wettability and contact angles, as well as the contact angle heterosis, will be revealed. Young’s equation will be introduced, as well as the effect of physical heterogeneity on wetting. The concept of contact angle hysteresis will round up the topic of wettability.

Finally, you will discover the application of adhesion in biological systems and the adhesion of rough and textured surfaces. The concepts in this course form the foundation for biointerface engineering, and their importance cannot be overemphasised. Intermolecular forces are crucial in medicine, biotechnology, and medical research in general. Their effects are also evident in the natural environment. For instance, have you ever wondered how bleeding stops when you prick your finger? The adhesion of blood cells to the damaged blood vessels plays a vital role in controlling the bleeding. This is just one example of the application of intermolecular forces in the natural healing process. Understanding the various interactions of biological systems with surfaces at the molecular and cellular level is also used in medical diagnostics and the development of new drugs. If you are a doctor, pharmacist, clinical officer, medical researcher, nurse, or aspire to be any of these in future, you will find this course particularly fulfilling, exciting and career-enhancing, so why wait? Start now.

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