Wilhelmy Plate Apparatus for Measuring Surface Tension

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The Wilhelmy plate apparatus is used to calculate the surface tension of a liquid. It measures the force of the liquid pulling down on a plate and uses the contact angle between the plate and the liquid to calculate the surface tension. Typically, two different angles can be seen: as the plate enters the liquid, there will be an advancing angle, and as the plate exits, there will be a receding angle.

Contributed by: Catherine Lu (February 2017)
Open content licensed under CC BY-NC-SA



This was a project for Advanced Topics in Mathematics II, 2016–2017, Torrey Pines High School, San Diego, CA.


[1] Smithers Pira. "Dynamic Contact Angle." (Feb 20, 2017) www.smitherspira.com/services/materials-testing/paper-surface-property-tests/dynamic-contact-angle.

[2] Dataphysics. "Wilhelmy Plate Method." (Feb 20, 2017) www.dataphysics.de/2/start/understanding-interfaces/tensiometry/wilhelmy-plate-method.

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