Volume 82, Number 5, June 2008
Article Number 56004
Number of page(s) 6
Section Condensed Matter: Structural, Mechanical and Thermal Properties
Published online 30 May 2008
EPL, 82 (2008) 56004
DOI: 10.1209/0295-5075/82/56004

Absolute limit for the capillary rise of a fluid

Frédéric Caupin1, Milton W. Cole1, 2, Sébastien Balibar1 and Jacques Treiner3

1  Laboratoire de Physique Statistique de l'Ecole Normale Supérieure, associé au CNRS et aux Universités Paris 6 et Paris 7 - 24 rue Lhomond 75005 Paris, France
2  Physics Department, Pennsylvania State University - University Park, PA 16802, USA
3  Université Pierre-et-Marie-Curie - 4 Place Jussieu, 75005 Paris, France

received 6 November 2007; accepted in final form 14 April 2008; published June 2008
published online 30 May 2008

Small capillaries can provide strong binding to fluids confined within them. We analyze this behavior with a simple microscopic theory, considering two geometries, a slit pore and a cylindrical pore. A goal is to achieve the maximum possible capillary rise (H) within each type of pore. The attraction for very small capillaries can result in a large value of H, exceeding 100 km in a number of cases (e.g., hydrogen, methane and water in cylindrical graphitic pores). The specific value of H depends on the details of the pore and the fluid-surface interaction. It is maximized in the case of small cylindrical pores, strong interactions and small adsorbate mass. Explicit calculations are presented for graphite and MgO substrates. Experimental tests are possible with an ultracentrifuge, where the high effective gravitational field reduces H.

PACS - Films and restricted geometries.
68.08.Bc - Wetting.
68.43.De - Statistical mechanics of adsorbates.

© EPLA 2008