Susanna Laurén Jul 11, ’23 > 3 min

# What is spreading coefficient?

## Surface Science Blog

A spreading coefficient is a measure of the wetting behavior of a liquid on a solid surface. It is defined as the difference between the interfacial free energy of the liquid-solid interface and the sum of the interfacial free energies of the liquid-vapor and solid-vapor interfaces. The spreading coefficient can be positive, negative, or zero, depending on the nature of the interactions between the liquid and solid.

## A positive spreading coefficient indicates wetting

A positive spreading coefficient indicates that the liquid tends to wet the solid surface, meaning that it spreads out over the surface and forms a thin film. This occurs because the liquid-solid interfacial free energy is lower than the sum of the liquid-vapor and solid-vapor interfacial free energies. In other words, the liquid is more stable in contact with the solid than it is in contact with the vapor phase.

## A negative spreading coefficient shows non-wetting conditions

A negative spreading coefficient, on the other hand, indicates that the liquid does not wet the solid surface and instead forms droplets. This occurs because the liquid-solid interfacial free energy is higher than the sum of the liquid-vapor and solid-vapor interfacial free energies. In this case, the liquid is more stable in contact with the vapor phase than it is in contact with the solid.
A zero spreading coefficient means that the liquid is neither wetting nor non-wetting on the solid surface. In this case, the liquid-solid interfacial free energy is equal to the sum of the liquid-vapor and solid-vapor interfacial free energies.

## Why measure the spreading coefficient?

The spreading coefficient is an important factor in many industrial and scientific applications, such as coating processes, adhesion, and inkjet printing. It is also relevant to the design of medical devices, such as contact lenses.

In summary, the spreading coefficient is a measure of the wetting behavior of a liquid on a solid surface, and is determined by the difference between the interfacial free energy of the liquid-solid interface and the sum of the interfacial free energies of the liquid-vapor and solid-vapor interfaces. It is an important factor in a wide range of applications, and can be determined using contact angle measurements.

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